Malaysia’s Next Potential Prime Minister Seeks to Abolish Anti-Gay Laws

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's forthcoming Prime Minister, is adamant in dismantling antiquated anti-gay laws, according to Into More.

Malaysia has not had the best track record in regard to LGBT rights, with the country's government not being able to accept LGBTQ people as it goes against the dominant religion of Islam. Gay sex is also illegal in Malaysia and people who are charged and found guilty of having gay sex can find themselves imprisoned for years up to twenty years.

One such person is Anwar Ibrahim, who was found guilty of having gay sex in both 1998 and 2008 and has spent a total of eleven years in jail. This is, I presume, partially why Ibrahim wants to do away with the archaic laws. Ibrahim has repeatedly denied the charges against him.

He has called the sodomy laws "unjust" and said that "Not only [am I a] victim, but many others can be victims." Frequently when Ibrahim when imprisoned he was placed in solitary confinement. His response to being denied seeing anyone is quite poetic. He said: "when it is denied to you, freedom is a torture and also a reason for survival." He also said that being in a small cell for a decade is "a tough experience" and that "You need to be strong-willed, you have a strong sense of conviction of what you believe in… if you understand that this is against the system, which is blatantly unjust, you realize that it's not going to be easy." 

Malaysia's current Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has said that LGBT rights are western values and another Malaysian politician, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, announced that the government will be releasing Guide to Self Migration, a "self-help" book that is basically a how-to manual for conversion therapy. It is currently available in the Google Play store but I don't recommend any Android users download it.

During a meeting, Ibrahim said in regard to the sodomy laws: "I've called publicly for the revision of the laws because I consider them archaic and they could be used against people." Some people in the meeting believe that he is talking around the question, saying that he's more concerned about protecting innocent people than protecting the rights of LGBTQ Malaysians. Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has said that gay and trans people can coexist in Malaysia as long as they don't promote their "lifestyle." Despite this, both he and his wife strongly condemned the whipping of two women who were "attempting to have sex."

Ibrahim has also promised to reform Malaysia's socioeconomic and political inequality against the marginalized, as a staggering 99.7% of Malaysian children who live in low-income housing in Kuala Lumpur are impoverished, 7% are living in complete poverty, and 22% have stunted growth due to malnutrition. 

It seems to me that LGBTQ rights in Malaysia are slowly coming into light with more people accepting non-heterosexual identities, but there is still a great deal of homophobia among the Malaysian population. It's nice to see that a potential politician is taking steps to increase LGBTQ rights, but is he really doing it for the sake of LGBTQ people? Let's hope so.

h/t: Into More

Leave a Comment