Malaysia has always advertised itself with the tagline “Malaysia:Truly Asia”. It is also the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Unfortunately, that means that the majority citizens here are ‘homophobic’.
Read here about how other Asian nations like Taiwan are legalising same-sex marriages.
In Malaysia, acts of sodomy and oral sex even among consenting heterosexuals is illegal and anti-Islamic. These acts are punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years and could also include corporal punishment. Also, Islamic courts under Sharia Law try such individuals.
A lot of voices have been raised against these colonial-era, archaic and inhumane laws. A lot of LGBT people and activists have even lost their lives in the struggle to freedom from such tyrannic oppression. But a lot is remains achievable and the record for LGBT rights in Malaysia is dismal.
LGBT & The Malaysian Government
Recently, Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said, “A big part of those in the LGBT community are the way they are due to “organic illnesses” in terms of hormones. Those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) do not have such tendencies due to mental illnesses.”
“Research also shows that there is something in their brainwaves that causes them to be that way.
“As such, we cannot see them as someone who is ill or suffering from mental illnesses.
His voice seems like one of reason and logic. But only time will tell how well it will received by the rest of the conservatives in government. Also, discourse in primarily Muslim Malaysia is greatly dominated by religious scholars and Maulvis. Their reactions will largely determine how Malaysia evolves in the future.
Doctors Struggle To Take A Stand
A debate seems to have broken out among doctors in Malaysia as to where they stand with regards to treating LGBT patients. Especially since most doctors in Malaysia are Muslim.
Malaysian physicians took to social media to remind colleagues of their Hippocratic oath after a purported doctor triggered controversy over blood donations from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
They responded to remarks by a Nur Ilyani Mohamed Nawawi, who claims to be a doctor, contained in an open letter to Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in which the former insinuated that blood from LGBT donors was suspect.
A resident medical officer, Dr Mohd Syamirulah Rahim, argued that a donor’s sexual orientation did not alter standard testing for donated blood. As need proper screening before clearing them for use.
“Testing for HIV and other transmissible diseases is mandatory for all donations, regardless of the donor’s acknowledgments or disclaimers. So the question of ‘would you be okay if an LGBT person donated blood to your family?’ still stands moot,” Dr Syamirulah said in a Facebook post.
Another Malaysian wrote, “Dr Nur Ilyani, instead of all this self-righteousness and disdain towards people who are not like you, perhaps you might want to understand them better, have a little compassion and take some time to learn more about HIV.”
LGBT In Malaysia Targeted
There has been increased attention on the LGBT community and related issues in recent weeks.
Prior to Nur Ilyani’s letter, Malay vernacular newspaper Utusan Malaysia published articles alleging a rise in LGBT numbers, which it spuriously linked to increasing HIV infection rates.
Islamic affairs minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa also ordered two portraits of prominent LGBT activists removed from the George Town Festival for “promoting LGBT activities” this week.
Before that, fast food chain Pizza Hut and local celebrity Datuk Afdlin Shauki were both criticised over unrelated tweets deemed to belittle the LGBT community.
Pizza Hut has apologised and claimed it dismissed the social media agency responsible for the offending tweet. Afdlin also apologised and accepted responsibility for the post made by his social media administrator.
Also read here about the condition of LGBT in other Muslim countries of Philippines and Turkey.
Malaysia has a long way to go before it can claim a decent human rights record. Especially with relation to its LGBT populace. As do other majority islamic countries. Even the next FIFA World Cup scheduled in Qatar in 2022, inclusivity and tolerance of LGBT individuals remains largely moot.
Written by: Delshad Master