Ending gender bias in conferring citizenship

WE, the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals, applaud the landmark Sept 9 decision by the Kuala Lumpur High Court that affirmed Malaysian women’s right to confer citizenship automatically on their children born overseas on an equal basis with Malaysian men.

The Court ruled that Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) pertaining to citizenship rights, must be read in harmony with Article 8(2), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir ruled that the word “father” must therefore be read to include “mother” and that their children are entitled to citizenship by operation of law.

We strongly urge the government of Malaysia not to appeal against this ruling. This will then enable all National Registration Department offices and Malaysian embassies worldwide to expedite the registration of Malaysian identification documents for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and non- Malaysian fathers.

We believe that with Malaysia seeking a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, the government is well placed to lead by example the countries yet to reform unequal nationality laws. Not appealing against this ruling is an incredible opportunity to do right by Malaysian women and their children, and to once and for all end gender discrimination in the conferment of citizenship on children born overseas to Malaysian women.


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