The Malaysian government is facing backlash after appealing against a high court ruling which would provide equal rights for mothers and fathers to pass on citizenship to their children.
Malaysian citizenship laws allow fathers to automatically transmit citizenship to children, but does not make mention of mothers, excluding them from the same provisions.
The Malaysian government appealed against a high court ruling on Monday following a legal challenge lodged by six mothers. The high court ruling determined that citizenship laws must be considered alongside the federal constitution which prohibits gender discrimination - a decision which would allow both mothers and fathers to pass their Malaysian citizenship to their children born overseas.
The government has come under fire since the controversial appeal prompting a petition to drop the appeal which has already received over 10,000 signatures in a day.
Government minister Wan Junaidi Wan Jaafar said he sympathised with Malaysian mothers and would bring up the issue in congress while two other government ministers - Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa and also Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun - backed the initial high court ruling.
Under the current law, Malaysian mothers with children born overseas to non-Malaysian partners must apply for their children to receive citizenship in a process that has an approval rate below 2 per cent.
Malaysia is one of 22 countries in the world to still have unequal citizenship laws between mothers and fathers.
Family Matters, a campaign group seeking to change the citizenship law since 2009, said the government had chosen to “defend the status quo of injustice.”
“Malaysian women have borne the injustice for 64 years,” Family Frontiers said in a statement on Monday.
The Home Ministry, led by Hamzah Zainudin, defended the citizenship law in Parliament last year stating that it was a matter of “national security” to stop overseas-born children from attaining double citizenship.