The Malaysian tourism minister has claimed that gay people do not exist in his country.
Government minister Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi made the claim while speaking to the media at an event in Germany on March 5, according to Deutche Welle.
Asked whether the country was safe for gay people, Ketapi replied: “I don’t think we have anything like that in our country.”
The comments came as the minister was trying to advertise Malaysia as a tourist destination, having spoken of its “natural beauty and welcoming culture.”
It is illegal to be gay in Malaysia, and the government of current prime minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad has been accused of leading a crackdown against the LGBT+ community.
Malaysia Prime Minister: LGBT+ rights are ‘Western values’
Speaking in October, the Prime Minister claimed that LGBT+ rights is a part of “Western values.”
He continued: “At this moment, we do not accept LGBT, but if they [the West] want to accept, that is their business. Don’t force it on us.
“The institution of marriage, the institution of the family has now been disregarded in the West. Why should we follow that? Our value system is as good.
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“If [the West] one day decided to walk around naked, do we have to follow?”
The leader proceeded to attack LGBT+ families.
He said: “For example in the West now, men marry men, women marry women, and then the family is not made up of father, mother and child, but it’s two men adopting one child from somebody.
“They call themselves a family.”
Malaysia government has cracked down on LGBT+ rights
The Malaysian government is stacked with opponents of LGBT+ rights.
In August 2018, the country’s religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.
He said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”
The same month, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ordered gay people to keep their sexuality secret, while Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye claimed that LGBT+ people suffer from an “organic disorder.”
Mahfuz Omar, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.