Kuala Lumpur. A group of Malaysian mothers has won a lawsuit related to the right of children born abroad to give their nationality (Sexist Citizenship Law). Rights activists say this is a historic decision. The victory could spur efforts in other countries to reform discriminatory citizenship laws.

Malaysia allows men to grant citizenship to children born abroad, but women were deprived of the same right until now, as the constitution only gives the “father” the right to pass on their nationality to the child. The court said that children born abroad of mothers are entitled to Malaysian citizenship.

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Mothers challenged in court In a lawsuit filed in the High Court, six mothers and the campaign group Family Frontiers argued that the provision violates Article 8 of the Constitution that prohibits gender discrimination. On the same matter, the High Court ruled that the word “father” should read the mother as well.

Chong Wai Lee, a former squash champion and mother of a seven-year-old son, says, “I am so thrilled. It’s a big win.” Chong told that he had made his 7-year-old son wear a T-shirt with a Malaysian flag to celebrate.

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Like other mothers fighting the case, Chong was married to a foreign national and gave birth to a son abroad. Women say citizenship rules divide families, run the risk of ensnaring women in abusive relationships and can make children stateless. The major impact of the decision The Malaysian government, which had previously described the matter as “trivial”, has declined comment for the time being. (agency input)

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