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Islam's New Forbidden Isms — Tomboyism and Lesbianism

Islam's New Forbidden Isms — Tomboyism and Lesbianism

At a meeting to discuss social threats to Muslims in Malaysia, a fatwa — scholarly opinion on Islamic law — was issued that forbids women to act like men. According to the ruling, women should not cut their hair short nor walk, talk, or otherwise act like men.

The fatwa, however, is not legally binding so it's not illegal to act masculine, just immoral. The chairman of the National Fatwa Council said these women were denying their femininity and violating human nature. To explain the ruling, he said:

It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including dressing in the clothes men wear. . . It becomes clearer when they start to have sex with someone of the same gender.

While lesbian sex is not illegal either, sodomy is an offense that is punctuated with a 20-year sentence. But in a country like Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion, a fatwa can hold as much power as the law, and many lawyers believe this is a push to put lesbianism on the other side of it.

Considering masculinity and femininity is a spectrum — defined by culture — I do wonder how far this can go.


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