A Malaysian court has dismissed an attempt by a group of transsexuals to challenge a law that bans Muslim men from wearing women's clothes.

Lawyers said it was the first known effort to overturn an Islamic Shariah law that prescribes jail terms of varying lengths or fines for convicted cross-dressers.

The secular High Court in Malaysia's southern town of Seremban today rejected the bid by four Muslim transsexuals who were born male to declare the Shariah law unconstitutional.

The law is enforced against Muslims, who comprise nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 29 million people.

The transsexuals had argued that Malaysia's constitution is supposed to uphold freedom of expression and forbid discrimination based on gender.

All four have previously been arrested and in some cases fined for wearing women's clothes.