International News, March 15-21, 2019

International News, March 15-21, 2019

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Group concerned over arrest of Egyptian transgender woman

An international rights group is voicing concern over the safety and well-being of an Egyptian transgender woman arrested during a police raid on her home in Cairo.

Amnesty International said that Malak el-Kashef was arrested March 6 and her whereabouts are unknown.

Amnesty’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Magdalena Mughrabi said el-Kashef’s arrest was related to her calls for protests following a Feb. 27 train crash in Cairo that killed at least 25 people.

Mughrabi said “due to her gender identity, el-Kashef is at increased risk of torture by the police, including rape and sexual violence, as well as assault by other detainees.”

Amnesty has called for her release “immediately and unconditionally.’’

The London-based group said dozens of people have been arrested over anti-government protests relating to the crash.


Thailand’s first transgender candidate runs for prime minister

A transgender woman who is running to be prime minister of Thailand has said she is ready to take the role, but wonders if the people are ready to accept a transgender candidate.

Pauline Ngarmpring transitioned at age 49, and has said she is “comfortable” and has “nothing to hide” ahead of the general election on March 24.

The trans Thai candidate said that, while she is ready for the race, she is accepting that she will likely not become prime minister on this occasion, according to the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

She also said that she decided to run now for prime minister so that future generations “who may be transgender, gay, male or female” will be able to have equality.

She is putting herself forward as a candidate for prime minister with the Machachon Party, a political party that is running with human rights and equality at the fore.

If they win enough seats, the party wants to decriminalize sex work and improve LGBT+ rights, and in particular, wants to give transgender people the right to change their gender on official documents.


There are no gays in Malaysia, tourism minister claims

The Malaysian tourism minister has claimed that gay people do not exist in his country.

Government minister Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi made the claim while speaking to the media on March 5 at an event in Germany.

Asked whether the country was safe for gay people, Ketapi replied: “I don’t think we have anything like that in our country.”

The comments came as the minister was trying to advertise Malaysia as a tourist destination, having spoken of its “natural beauty and welcoming culture.”

It is illegal to be gay in Malaysia, and the government of current prime minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad has been accused of leading a crackdown against the LGBT+ community.

Speaking in October, the Prime Minister claimed that LGBT+ rights are a part of “Western values.”

According to the Bangkok Post and Nikkei Asian Review, he said: “Sometimes Asians accept Western values without questioning. We should be free not to change our values according to their wishes.”

He continued: “At this moment, we do not accept LGBT, but if they [the West] want to accept, that is their business. Don’t force it on us. The institution of marriage, the institution of the family has now been disregarded in the West. Why should we follow that? Our value system is as good. If [the West] one day decided to walk around naked, do we have to follow?”

The Malaysian government is stacked with opponents of LGBT+ rights.

In August 2018, the country’s religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists to be removed from an exhibition.

He said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”

The same month, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ordered gay people to keep their sexuality secret, while Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye claimed that LGBT+ people suffer from an “organic disorder.”

Mahfuz Omar, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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