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Stop using LGBTI Malaysians as ‘punching bag’ warns lawyer group

Stop using LGBTI Malaysians as ‘punching bag’ warns lawyer group

Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia’s leaders must stop using the LGBTI community for political gain, said local civil society group Lawyers for Liberty.

It comes as LGBTI Malaysians feel increasingly persecuted under Malaysia’s nascent new government.

‘The LGBT have to live in hiding or risk the wrath of both the public and the law’ said Zaid Malek, the group’s coordinator in a statement said Wednesday (3 October).

‘They have been disenfranchised and suffered for far too long’, he said.

Malek was responding to recent assertions from political leader, Anwar Ibrahim, that Malay Muslims were being forced to accept ‘LGBT culture or lifestyle’.

‘It is unfortunate that he is using the LGBT community as pawns to a political agenda; it reeks of the fear-mongering tactic often used by the government of old’, said Malek.

Malek described Anwar’s claims of an LGBTI-agenda as ‘complete nonsense.’

‘All that is asked for by the LGBT is for the authorities and the intolerant to stop persecuting and vilifying them’ he said.

‘New’ Malaysia

Last month, the country’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia cannot accept equal marriage or LGBT rights.

‘In Malaysia, there are some things we cannot accept,’ Mahathir told reporters. ‘Even though it is seen as human rights in Western countries’, he reportedly explained.

A 2013 survey found 86 percent of Malaysians believed homosexuality should not be socially accepted. Only nine percent said it should.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia under Section 377 of the Penal Code. Its similar colonial-era legislation to the anti-gay law that India dismantled last month.

Furthermore, advocacy groups have warned of a backsliding in human rights for LGBTI Malaysians since a new government took power.

In the last two months, Malaysia caned two women for attempting lesbian sex. Police also raided the oldest gay club in the country. What’s more, ministers and politicians have spoken out against the LGBTI community.

Anwar is currently running for parliament in a bid to lead the country’s coalition and become the next Prime Minister.

As opposition leader Anwar was twice convicted of sodomy. He claimed the charges were politically motivated and maintained his innocence.