Malaysian Official Says Anti-LGBTQ Laws Aren’t Strict Enough

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01/27/2021

Putrajaya, a Malaysian city located south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, is considering even harsher punishments for LGBTQ people than already-existing law, Gay Times reports. Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, deputy minister of the religious affairs department, said the current laws are not strict enough. Under Act 355, which punishes offenses under Islamic law, offenders face a mandatory caning, a fine, and up to three years in prison. Malaysia’s Syariah Courts are considering possible amendments, such as criminalizing transitioning (for the transgender community) and pro-LGBTQ online content that could be liberally interpreted as “indecent,” including, Human Rights Watch states, “images of non-normative gender expression.” The deputy minister expressed dismay that internet culture is not punishable by existing Malaysian law. Neela Ghoshal, Associate Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said, “Malaysia’s state and federal statutes that criminalize LGBT people are already out of bounds with regard to international law, and the government seems to be sinking even deeper in its disregard for human rights.” Ghoshal argues that instead of implementing harsher penalties, the government should push toward a repeal of the current law.

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