No Place For LGBT Malaysians?

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12/25/2021

In Malaysia, where sodomy is a crime with laws strictly enforced, it was reported that the government is considering amending the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act – also known as Act 355 – to enable heavy penalties to be imposed on the LGBT community. At the moment, LGBT people face three-year imprisonment, a fine of RM5,000 (US$1,236), and six strokes of the cane, under the Act. “Seeing the situation in the country now involving the LGBT group, the government might consider amending Act 355,” said Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs). “By doing this, the government hopes it would prevent them from committing more offences,” he added. The minister’s comment was met with criticism from rights activists and local public figures, especially that it came as Malaysian premier Muhyiddin Yassin called on ASEAN countries to consider enacting stronger laws against hate speech at the first ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting, days after. “I wonder whether Muhyiddin is serious about his speech if he has done nothing to contain such speeches (as those by Marzuk), even if it is done by two of his strongest coalition partners,” said Lim Lip Eng, a Member of Parliament of Malaysia for the Kepong constituency. “As the Malay proverb goes, ‘seperti ketam menyuruh anaknya berjalan betul’ (like a crab teaching its child to walk straight), Muhyiddin has to walk the talk and must not only pay lip service to his international counterparts,” he continued.

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