most powerful Muslim leaders passed an edict last
week preventing man-like behaviors among the country's
women. The National Fatwa Council ruled on Thursday
that "tomboyish" manners were against Islamic laws,
including dressing like men, wearing masculine
haircuts, and engaging in same-sex sexual encounters, the
Associated Press reports.
Islam is the
official religion of Malaysia, with more than 60% of its
citizens Muslims. The Council's edicts are not
binding, according to national law, but most
Malaysians regard them as such.
correspondent based in the Malaysian capital of Kuala
Lumpur reported that the edict was aimed at fighting
the increase in school bullying among girls, a
phenomenon that the country's media has covered
extensively in the last few months. The reporter added that
another reason was the alleged rise in female
homosexuality in the country.
illegal in Malaysia -- those convicted of sodomy are
often sentenced to long prison terms or physically punished
-- but religious leaders and the government have been
mostly concerned with gay men. Now both parties seem
to be turning their attention to gay women.
instances, Human Rights Watch has condemned the southeast
Asian country, calling its laws against gay people
"antiquated" and urging the Malaysian
authorities to repeal them. (Thibault Chareton, The