World

Death of transgender woman in Malaysia sparks fears of hate crime

KUALA LUMPUR The death of a transgender woman in Malaysia has sparked fears of a rise in hate crimes, campaigners said yesterday, as police moved swiftly to detain four suspects in the murder investigation.

The 32-year-old victim died from multiple injuries last Thursday after she was attacked by a group of youths in Klang, according to a report by state news agency Bernama.

The four arrested suspects are between the ages of 16 and 21, the report said.

It added that local police said the case was linked to a mobile phone theft and was unrelated to issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

But campaigners said the attack should not be separated from what they perceive as rising intolerance toward LGBT people in the country.

"This is a hate crime," said Ms Nisha Ayub, co-founder of the Kuala Lumpur-based transgender rights group Justice for Sisters.

"Would these youths act in such a violent way if she was not a transgender person? This is all due to the hatred that has been created," Ms Ayub told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that many attacks are not reported to police.

Local police declined further comment on the case.

Several incidents in the Muslim-majority nation this year have stoked concerns among campaigners that the climate for the country's LGBT community is deteriorating further.

In August, government officials ordered the removal of portraits of two LGBT activists from an art exhibition and a transgender woman was attacked, sparking public outrage.- REUTERS

WORLD