Malaysia’s main body of Islamic clerics has issued an edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said today.
The National Fatwa Council forbade the practice of girls behaving or dressing like boys during a meeting in northern Malaysia, said Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state, who attended the gathering.
Mr Harussani said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys, and that some of them engage in homosexuality.
Homosexuality is not explicitly banned in Malaysia, but it is effectively illegal under a law that prohibits sex acts “against the order of nature”.
Mr Harussani said the council’s ruling was not legally binding because it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because their actions are immoral.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a law or not. When it’s wrong, it’s wrong. It is a sin,” Mr Harussani said. “Tomboy (behaviour) is forbidden in Islam.”
Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress, walk and act like boys, Mr Harussani said. Boys should also not act like girls, he said.
“They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls,” he said.
It was not immediately clear what kind of punishment awaited those who violate the tomboy edict, or fatwa.
Malays generally follow the council’s fatwas out of deference, but violators rarely get into trouble unless the edict is incorporated into national or Shariah law.