The Vice-President of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia said on Monday that LGBT rights should be excluded from a human rights declaration currently being drafted by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Lawyer Azril Mohd Amin wrote in a letter to a Malaysian newspaper:
‘There will be attempts by LGBTs, NGOs, and various other activists to include LGBT rights and the right of absolute freedom of religion in the declaration.
‘Were ASEAN to endorse such rights in the final declaration, Malaysia as a Muslim-majority country would have to reiterate her strong objections; as such a policy clearly contradicts the principles enshrined in the religion of Islam.’
Amin, who has an MA in human rights from the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies, said that giving LGBT people social recognition ‘would be confusing and destructive to the development and witness of our own children’ and that homosexuality declassified as a disease in America after ‘intimidation’.
Amin argued that Malaysia must express its ‘unalterable position on LGBTs’ during the upcoming regional consultation on the draft declaration. He wrote:
‘Malaysian and those who are against LGBT rights are thereby protecting the human race from the secular fallacy, perpetrated by the United Nations, that human beings may do as they please, within their so-called "sovereign borders" (as laid down by the European powers).’
Malaysian human rights campaigner and organizer of the Seksualiti Merdeka sexualities freedom festival that was banned in Kuala Lumpur last year, Pang Khee Teik, said in a response to the letter:
‘We recognise and acknowledge the fact that the application of a universal human rights can be problematic, and sometimes western countries can appear to be bullying other countries into accepting what they have defined is universal. And that yes, if indeed human rights becomes another form of imperialism, then this is a problem as it is tantamount to disregarding the autonomy of each country.
‘Hence that is why ASEAN countries have come together to form and agree to OUR OWN set of human rights. And our set of human rights are not formed as way to ape the west, BUT out of the very principle of autonomy that we so value – for as we believe countries have no right bullying other countries to subscribe to their values, people also have no right to bully each other to accept their values. The human rights charter of ASEAN recognises both the autonomy of countries as well as the autonomy of individuals.
‘The very exercise of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is ultimately to protect our rich Asian diversity, all our ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities. It is this diversity that is truly our way of life. It will be truly ironic if the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration chooses to deny this diversity.’