Malaysia

Here are some interesting items about LGBT Malaysia….

From ILGA State-Sponsored Homophobia Report, 2013
From ILGA State-Sponsored Homophobia Report, 2013

From the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report 2012:

The constitution provides for equal protection under the law and prohibits discrimination against citizens based on race, sex, religion, descent, or place of birth. The law is silent on discrimination based on disabilities and sexual orientation. The constitution also provides for the “special position” of ethnic Malays and the indigenous groups of the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak (collectively, bumiputra), and discrimination based on this provision persisted. One of the requirements for being considered an ethnic Malay is to speak the Malay language.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Section 377 of the Penal Code states that sodomy and oral sex acts are “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” but was rarely enforced. However, this law was the basis for the case against parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (see section 1.e.). Religious and cultural taboos against same-sex sexual conduct were widespread.

On October 11, the High Court in Seremban dismissed an application by four Muslim transgender individuals to declare unconstitutional a law that bans men from dressing as women. Each of them, who were born male but acted and dressed as women, had previously been arrested or fined by the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Department for violating the Sharia Criminal Act, a state-level Sharia law that prohibits Muslim men from dressing and posing as women. The court ruled that the Federal Constitution’s provision on freedom of expression, which bans discrimination based on gender, is not applicable to Muslims who violate the relevant portion of the Sharia Criminal Act. The four individuals were expected to appeal the decision.

The Ministry of Education endorsed a series of parenting seminars against the LGBT “lifestyle” given to more than 10,000 parent-teacher association leaders, counselors, and school administrators. At some of the seminars Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi stated “LGBT ways could spread widely to the educational institutions” and that “the responsibility to contain the LGBT symptoms…has to involve all quarters.”

On September 13, local media published “Guidelines to Identify Gay and Lesbian Symptoms” that were endorsed by the Ministry of Education and distributed to educators in Penang at a seminar officiated by Mohd Puad. For men and boys, the guidelines listed as symptoms having a muscular body and desiring to show one’s body by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes; preferring tight and light-colored clothes; being attracted to men; and carrying big handbags, similar to those used by women. For women and girls, the symptoms included being attracted to women; distancing oneself from all females except their companions; hanging out, having meals, and sleeping in the company of women; and having no affection for men. The guidelines included a warning that “once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given.” The ministry distanced itself from the guidelines after they were widely criticized in some mainstream media.

On July 30, the Ministry of Education stated its intention to increase “moral education” for all students in addition to a new sexual education program launched earlier in July. The ministry acknowledged the aim of the effort was to combat the “dangers and threats” of the LGBT population as “many teens in the country do not know the function and importance of healthy interaction among boys and girls.”

Also on July 30, a statement from the assistant director of Special Branch’s E2 National Social Extremist Threat Division stated that extremists threaten national security through religion, politics, and societies, and that certain groups, such as LGBT individuals, “hide behind NGOs and use religion, race, and society as their tools to influence the people.” He also stated that some of the negative cultures brought in by these “extremist” groups are street demonstrations and LGBT culture, which are spread through the excuse of upholding human rights.

On July 25, the human rights NGO SUARAM criticized both Prime Minister Najib and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for their remarks against the LGBT community. According to SUARAM, their statements have “sent out a clear message that approves and justifies homophobic and transphobic violence, abuse and harassment against LGBTs by society.”

On June 19, Deputy Minister Mashitah Ibrahim told parliament that the constitution did not protect LGBT individuals or their lifestyles from government control measures. Although the constitution states that “all persons are equal before the law” and “there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of…gender,” Mashitah stated that gender is defined based on whether a person is male or female and not on sexual preferences.

On June 19, the Johor State Religious Committee Chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman stated that LGBT activists challenged positions of Islam in the federal constitution and insulted the head of the religion, the king, along with threatening the country’s stability and peace. The committee checked bookstores across the state to make sure there were no sales of the banned book Allah, Liberty and Love, by Irshad Manji, a Canadian gay rights activist, and the state government sponsored “seminars and workshops that were organized to spread the word on the dangers of the [LGBT] culture.”

From the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report, 2010:

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Although there are no laws that prohibit homosexual conduct, laws against sodomy and “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” exist and were enforced sporadically. Religious and cultural taboos against homosexual conduct were widespread. For example, during the year a Health Ministry official stated that homosexual activity and masturbation helped to spread the H1N1 infection.

On December 21, a 32-year-old Muslim man acknowledged being gay in a video posted on the YouTube Web site. In the video, entitled “I’m Gay, I’m OK,” the individual encouraged other gay persons to be confident in themselves. In six days, the video was viewed more than 140,000 times. The man received online death threats as a result of the video and stated that he feared for his life. Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria condemned the video and said that the individual had “derided his own dignity and Islam in general.”

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