The Star Online
Tuesday November 15, 2005
KUALA LUMPUR: Their love led to a much-publicised marriage.
For Jessie Chung and Joshua Beh, it is also the start of their problems. In the eyes of the law and religion, they are not yet wife and husband.
Chung, who was born a male and had undergone a sex change operation three years ago, and Beh held their wedding reception for some 800 friends and relatives in Kuching, Sarawak, last Saturday.
Three pastors from Bountiful Harvest, Shepherd’s Centre and Assembly of Love presided over the ceremony.
Malaysian laws do not allow its citizens to change their gender in their identity cards despite having gone through a sex operation, according to Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid.
Since there was no change in the gender in the IC, the marriage would be deemed illegal, Azmi said.
His deputy Datuk Tan Chai Ho told Bernama that the marriage was “invalid” as the Marriage and Divorce Reform Act 1976 does not allow marriages between two people of the same sex, even if one of them has undergone a sex change operation.
“If they apply (for a marriage certificate), we definitely will ask for their identity cards. I guess they must have realised this and I think that is why they did not apply for it,” he said.
On the marriage ceremony, he said the couple’s parents could have signed the customary marriage documents and not the marriage certificate.
National Evangelical Christian Fellowship secretary-general Rev Wong Kim Kong said it does not approve marriages of the same sex even after one partner has changed his or her sex.
“It’s clearly stated in the Bible. There is no such thing as creation of half-half. Therefore, biologically and genetically, there is only male and female,” he told Bernama.
“Therefore, there is no chance it (the marriage) will be condoned by the Christian church. As a religious group, we have to follow the religion based on the Bible.”
Council of Churches of Malaysia secretary-general Dr Herman Shastri said that while churches do not encourage the practice of sex change, churches had their own approach in recognising such marriages.
However, he said the church should not discriminate against a person if he or she has proof of being born with imbalance hormones; was undergoing counselling; that his or her parents do not object to the sex change; and the operation was carried out in a proper medical institution.
In Kuching, Chung's adopted brother Brian Choot, who coordinated the wedding, said the couple was prepared to migrate if the situation did not permit them to live as husband and wife.