Leading Malaysian lawyer accuses government of ‘cowardice’ on LGBT rights
Prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has accused Malaysia’s ruling party of ‘cowardice’ over its treatment of LGBTI people.
She urged the government to drop its investigation into organizers of the Women’s March Malaysia last week.
LGBTI Malaysians are once again under attack after the Women’s March Malaysia included demands for LGBT rights last week.
‘It is easy to attack a minority group. That is not courage. That is cowardice’ she said on Saturday (16 March).
‘What takes courage and leadership is to fight for their fundamental liberties even if you disagree with them,’ she added.
Muslim-majority Malaysia, led by politicians and religious leaders, is becoming increasingly intolerant towards its LGBTI population.
The human rights advocate and former president of the Malaysian bar Sreenevasan asked leaders: ‘Are they proud of the way they attacked a minority community with their non-scientific based views?’
LGBTI people face discrimination at workplaces and at hospitals, Sreenevasan said. They are at risk of violence and even murder, she said.
But, she said, ‘every human being deserves to live free from fear’. Leaders were acting like bullies, she argued.
‘The Federal Constitution does not discriminate on the grounds of gender or sexual identity’.
LGBTI rights in Malaysia
Human Rights Watch on Friday (15 March) urged Malaysia to drop its investigation into organizers of the Women’s March last week.
The government and mainstream media condemned the march for including demands for LGBTI rights.
A member of parliament said organizers had ‘abused democratic space to defend something that is wrong by Islam’.
‘The government is firm that LGBT practices will never be accepted in this country’ he also said.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. A colonial-era law punishes gay sex with up to 20 years in prison.
Shariah courts following Islamic law run parallel to the secular judiciary.
Last week, the country’s tourism minister claimed the country had no homosexuals.
Police have raided gay clubs and arrested individuals.
Malaysia’s prime minister last year said Malaysia could not accept LGBT rights and labeled them a Western import.
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Author: Rik Glauert