A Malaysian constitutional expert has claimed in a recent conference that condoning gay rights would see criminals taking charge of society.
But two other speakers at the intellectual forum titled "Homosexuality: Crime or Right" begged to differ from Dr Shamrayahu Abdul Aziz, who was expressing the view at her International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
Shamrayahu, an IIUM associate professor, sees homosexulaity as a 'sin and crime' punishable under the Islamic hudud law, stressing there is no framework to protect gay rights in the country even after separating religion from country.
She cited articles ten and 11 of the constitution as saying cetain rights that interfere with public morality cannot be allowed.
Without ethics as a touchstone to uphold ‘civilization’, she said, ‘I am worried that drunkards will be bus drivers and rapists will be taking care of playgrounds.
‘It’s not about Islam, but about all religious Malaysians. We just want peace and you will not have peace if the majority isn’t happy,’ she said, describing protecting homosexual behaviour in public upset people.
Of the seven times that Penal Code Section 377 was used to bring a court case since 1938, four were related to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, he said. A charge virtually impossible to disprove, the sodomy law has long proven to be a convenient political weapon in the absence of legitimate wrongdoing.
Stressing everyone is born free with a conscience, Farouk said, ‘If repentance is to be had, it must be sincere and it shouldn’t be done out of fear that the state would punish us.’
Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee also pointed out how a woman giving a man oral sex will also be considered a crime under the same code, but the couple is unlikely to be prosecuted.
He also denied Shamrayahu’s claims that the quest for gay rights is a western ideology, suggesting how India, Cambodia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand have all struck off the law.
‘Where does it say in our constitution that sexual minorities are supposed to be persecuted, humiliated?’ he asked, adding how the country’s only sexuality festival, Seksualiti Merdeka, is not about promoting free sex, but a sharing of personal accounts about discrimination.
More of the debate can be found on Free Malaysia Today.