Malaysia states eye harsher laws for Muslim gays

http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20111111-310146.html
Malaysia states eye harsher laws for Muslim gays ReutersFriday, Nov 11, 2011



KUALA LUMPUR – Two Malaysian states are set to change their Islamic laws to punish Muslims who engage in homosexuality, raising the prospect of gay Muslims being punished twice and stoking concerns about rising intolerance towards same-gender relationships.
Homosexuality is punishable by law in Malaysia by caning and up to 20 years in jail, but the legal amendments planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give the state governments additional ammunition.
If the proposed changes came into force, a Muslim homosexual could be punished under both federal and state religious charges, meaning that jail terms could run consecutively and result in longer time.
Analysts said the proposed amendments hinted at an increasing intolerance towards homosexuality and could erode support for the government among the majority ethnic Malays, who are Muslims by birth.
“The irony of the situation is that the overwhelming majority of gay people in this country are Malays,” said James Chin, a political analyst at Monash University in Malaysia.
“When they have these laws to target non-mainstream sexual minorities, they are actually targeting their own people.”
Malacca’s chief minister, Mohd Ali Rustam, said the state would review its Islamic law provisions to allow Muslim gays and lesbians to be tried in court and punished by a jail term or a fine to deter homosexuality.
“So many people like to promote human rights, even up to the point they want to allow lesbian activities and homosexuality,” Ali told Reuters.
“In Islam, we cannot do all this. It is against Islamic law,” he said, adding that Muslim homosexuals would also be required to attend counselling. 
Ali, who is also Malacca Islamic Religious Department chairman, said the proposed penalties would also apply to those who supported homosexuality even if they did not practise it.
“We want to put it in the enactment so that we can enforce it and bring them to our sharia (Islamic law) court. Then we can charge them for promoting or supporting these illegal activities.”
On Thursday, the top cleric of central Pahang state was quoted in The Star newspaper as saying the state would also amend its Islamic laws to allow for action against homosexual-related activities.
“Islam prohibits deviant sexual orientation or behaviour,”Abdul Rahman Osman was quoted as saying.
“Appropriate action should be taken to address these problems. We fear that this abnormal behaviour will be regarded as a norm.”
In Malaysia, religion is within the respective states’purview and the authorities do not need federal government approval to effect legislative changes.
Last week, organisers were forced to cancel an annual sexuality rights festival in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, after police threatened to crack down on the event, saying it could create widespread unease and public disorder.
About 60 percent of the country’s population of 28 million are Muslims, and Islamic law tenets are used as an official yardstick for the behaviour of followers. Still, Muslims often throng bars serving alcohol in Kuala Lumpur.
Extramarital sex is frowned upon and same-gender relationships often draw criticism although the rise of alternative media channels has bred a greater openness in debates about homosexuality.
But public discussions involving sexuality often assume a conservative veneer. Films and music are also heavily censored to remove explicit content, and homosexuals and transvestites complain of professional and social discrimination.



http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20111110-309679.html
Pahang aims to act against gays and lesbians, too ShareBy Roslina MohamadThe Star/Asia News NetworkThursday, Nov 10, 2011
PEKAN, Malaysia – Pahang will follow Malacca’s move to amend its Islamic enactment against homosexual-related activities.
State mufti Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman said there was a need to have a specific provision in the state Islamic regulations concern-ing syariah-related crimes and homosexual activities.
“Islam prohibits deviant sexual orientation or behaviour.
“Appropriate action should be taken to address these problems.
“We fear that this abnormal behaviour will be regarded as a norm,” he said here yesterday.
Abdul Rahman said the present provisions in Pahang syariah laws were insufficient in tackling deviant sexual behaviour and a specific legal provision was needed to spell out the crimes, the form of enforcement and punishment.
“We hope the proposed amendments can be tabled in the next state assembly sitting,” he added.
It was reported earlier that the Malacca syariah court will bring homosexuals and lesbians to trial once the state amends and gazettes its Islamic enactments.
Abdul Rahman said syariah crimes now came under the purview of the Islamic Religious Administration and Pahang Malay Tradition Enactment 1982.
“It is high time that laws involving Islamic administration and crimes are separated in view of the current trend in syariah crimes relating to homosexual activities,” he added.
On the Seksualiti Merdeka festival which had been cancelled, Abdul Rahman said it was wrong for the organisers to hold such events.
He also advised Muslims not to attend Elton John’s concert, which he said was about supporting the singer’s homosexual lifestyle.
He added the singer was married to a male which was clearly against normal bahaviour.
“Muslims who go to the concert may be deemed as supporting him and his lifestyle, which is contrary to Islam.”



http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20111109-309458.html
Chua: Sexual preference a private decision as long as it harms no one The Star/Asia News NetworkWednesday, Nov 09, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR – Just like religion, sexual preference is a “very individual thing”, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
“If you want to be gay, bisexual or (have) any sexual preference, and if it does not harm anybody, you are entitled to that choice.
“If you want to practise and enjoy the freedom in terms of a festival, then it attracts a lot of attention and people may not be very happy,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.
Dr Chua was commenting on the Seksualiti Merdeka event, which was scheduled to begin today and run until Nov 13 at Central Market’s Annexe Gallery.
A talk on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the workplace, scheduled last Thursday, was stopped after police announced a ban on all programmes related to Seksualiti Merdeka.
Dr Chua said the organiser must be sensitive as there may be certain segments of the community that might not be able to accept such an event.
“If they want to organise it like a festival that runs for days, it may provoke people who may not agree with it,” Dr Chua said.
However, he added that while the voice of the majority must be heard, the views of the minority should be respected, too.
Meanwhile, PKR said it supported the right to freedom of expression although the party maintained a neutral stance on Seksualiti Merdeka.
“We neither support nor condemn Seksualiti Merdeka.
“But the issue is their freedom to express themselves,” party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
However, he said this was PKR’s view as the issue had yet to be specifically discussed among Pakatan Rakyat’s component parties.
Anwar added that the authorities should engage with those involved in the movement.
He also said it was unfair to target Bar Council chairman Datuk S. Ambiga, who had been invited to launch the event.
“Why go after Ambiga and harass her in this manner?
“Pakatan is strongly opposed to the way she was abused and insulted,” Anwar added.
Police have since recorded statements from Ambiga, Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez, Empower Malaysia executive director Maria Chin Abdullah and Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik.

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