Civil groups chide minister Zulkifli’s insistence on harsher laws against LGBT

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04/07/2021

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — A coalition of local civil societies has today slammed religious affairs minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad’s insistence to table a law amendment that would provide for harsher punishments against Shariah offences to target the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) also criticised him for trying to “rehabilitate” sexual and gender minorities, pointing out that such conversion therapy is inhumane and detrimental towards one’s mental health and self-esteem. “It is ironic that these proposed discriminatory measures — a clear violation of human rights — coincide with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein’s bid for Malaysia’s membership on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. “The government’s decision to move forward with a harsher sentence against Muslim LGBTQ+ persons would stand at odds with the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” it said. “As such, JAG requests the cabinet of Ministers to prevent the proposal from being tabled at the next parliamentary session and to refrain from persecution of the LGBTQ+ community,” it added. JAG said it is also concerned that Zulkifli has openly endorsed government-run programmes of conversion therapy by masking it as a softer approach.

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