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Malaysian leader condemns ‘unfair’ gay sex law used to imprison him

Josh Jackman September 24, 2018
Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim delivers a speech during a CEO conference organised by a local management association in Manila on September 4, 2018. - Anwar was jailed in 2015 on sodomy charges that critics say were politically motivated and then released in May 2018 after then-Prime Minister Najib Razak's election defeat. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Anwar Ibrahim has twice been imprisoned under the law (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty)

The leader of Malaysia’s ruling coalition has called for a review of the country’s gay sex ban.

Anwar Ibrahim served a total of eight years in prison because of the colonial-era Section 377A law, in convictions condemned by human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as politically motivated.

His latest stint behind bars for having gay sex—which he denies, as he also did for his first conviction—ended when he was royally pardoned and released earlier this year.

Newly released Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim gestures during an interview with AFP at his house in Kuala Lumpur on May 17, 2018. - Newly released Malaysian political heavyweight Anwar Ibrahim said on May 17 he expects ex-premier Najib Razak to be jailed over multi-billion-dollar graft claims. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) / TO GO WITH Malaysia-politics-Anwar, INTERVIEW (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ibrahim was royally pardoned this year (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty)

However, Ibrahim, who used to be deputy prime minister and is the current deputy prime minister’s husband, also said he agreed with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s comment last week that the country “cannot accept LGBT as well as the marriage of man and man or woman and woman.”

The political heavyweight told attendees at a party conference that marriage equality was not compatible with values held by the Muslim-majority country.

“The sanctity of marriage is between a man and a woman. This is our understanding and that of many other religions,” Ibrahim said, according to The Star Online.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (R) and politician Anwar Ibrahim, leave after a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on June 1, 2018. (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohamad and Ibrahim broadly agree with each other on LGBT+ rights (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty)

“What I was saying is that the laws on sodomy are not fair, outdated, and need to be reviewed.

“These laws were brought in by the British to India during the times of colonisation, and Malaya at that time adopted these laws as well,” he added.

Malaysian human rights commission Suhakam recently stated that like the prime minister, it is not pushing for same-sex marriage in the country, though the group emphasised that it was fighting for anti-discrimination protections.

BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 20: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (C) speaks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) during their meeting at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on August 20 2018 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Roman Pilipey - Pool/Getty Images)
Malaysia’s Prime Minister said the country “has a different value system than the Westerners” (Roman Pilipey/Getty)

India decriminalised gay sex earlier this month, with the country’s Supreme Court unanimously ruling in favour of an end to the 157-year-old Section 377 law.

This came just days after two women in the Malaysian state of Terengganu received six lashes each for having gay sex.

Ibrahim’s wife, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, last month joined a growing chorus of prominent voices against LGBT+ rights in the country when she said queer citizens should hide, keeping their identities secret in order to be accepted by society.

The current backlash towards LGBT+ equality began when religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition in August.

Mujahid Yusof Rawa (Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa/facebook)

He said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”

Since then, a series of political figures—including members of the government—have voiced disturbing views about Malaysia’s LGBT+ populace.

Latteffah Ali, state chairperson of the women’s wing of the United Malays National Organisation, said that if LGBT+ people keep pushing for equal rights, it could destroy the health and ethics of a generation.

Ali said trans women shouldn’t use women’s toilets (the star online/youtube)

Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister, Dr Lee Boon Chye, said last month that LGBT+ people suffer from an “organic disorder.”

Mahfuz Omar, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.

And in August, police raided The Blue Boy club, a gay bar in Kuala Lumpur.

More: anwar ibrahim, Asia, Asia, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Gay, gay sex, Law, Malaysia, Malaysia, prime minister dr Mahathir Mohamad, prison, Section 377A, Sex, World

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