Malaysia’s tourism ministry on Thursday (7 March) said it would not prevent people from visiting the country based on their sexuality.
The statement came after the country’s tourism minister claimed Malaysia does not have any homosexuals.
‘I don’t think we have anything like that [homosexuals] in our country’ minister Mohammaddin Ketapi said earlier this week.
Thursday’s statement claimed the minister was actually commenting that there was no LGBTI tourism campaign in the country.
It also said there were no plans for such a campaign in the future.
‘As a main tourism destination in Asia, Malaysia has never and will not do anything to stop our guests based on their sexual orientation, religion and cultural belief,’ it said.
What’s more, the ministry said Malaysia had its own stand on LGBTI issues. It also said it local had laws that visitors should respect.
‘These laws must be respected and followed, not just by foreign tourists but Malaysians as well’ the statement said.
LGBT rights in Malaysia
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.
What’s more, Malaysia is also is in the middle of a worrying crackdown on the marginalized LGBTI community.
Police have raided gay clubs and arrested individuals.
One conservative state caned women for attempting lesbian sex. At least two trans women have been murdered in the last few months.
And, importantly, the government continues to spew anti-LGBTI rhetoric.
Malaysia’s prime minister last year said Malaysia could not accept LGBT rights and labeled them a Western import.