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Activists demand Malaysia repeals anti-gay laws

Human Rights Watch urges Malaysia to repeal sex law and drop case against deputy prime minister
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian capital.

The Malaysian government are being urged to revoke their archaic legislation banning homosexuality it was reported today.

Authorities should also drop the case of alleged ‘sodomy’ against former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim said the group Human Rights Watch.

Ibrahim was accused of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old aide in June 2008.

Charges were later reduced to consensual sodomy after it was reported that Ibrahim was incapable of forcing the man because he had a bad back.

But 60-year-old Ibrahim is still being tried for ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ which is prohibited under section 377 of the Malaysian penal code.

Ibrahim’s trial began in February 2010 and conviction under the colonial-era legislation could result in up to 20 years in prison.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch said: ‘Whether or not Anwar Ibrahim engaged in consensual “sodomy” is irrelevant. It’s time to reject this law and end the farcical political theatre that promotes discrimination based on sexual orientation and destroys people’s lives.

‘Laws punishing consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex are an unjustifiable invasion of the rights to privacy and personal security. They foster a climate in which discrimination and abuse takes place. These rights cannot be willed away by selective appeals to cultural tradition and religious belief.’

Malaysia is part of the United Nations Human Rights Council and therefore has a responsibility to both protect and promote human rights.

Human Rights Watch said: ‘Revoking the sodomy law would be consistent with Malaysia’s undertakings as a Human Rights Council member.’

Ibrahim was previously tried and convicted for sodomy in 2000 and received a nine year prison sentence during which time he was subjected to rights violations.

These included assault by a police chief, limited access to legal counsel, harassment by lawyers and witness intimidation.

The UN high commissioner for human rights will present a report to the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

This will recommend that UN member states ‘repeal laws used to criminalise individuals on grounds of homosexuality for engaging in consensual same-sex conduct.’

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