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Being LGBT is not a crime, say lawyers and activists

July 9, 2018 6:58 AM
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PETALING JAYA: Legal experts and activists have defended the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, saying being one of them is not a crime.

The Malaysian Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim) CEO Mahamad Naser Disa (pix) had said being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is a crime itself.

National Human Rights Society (Hakam) secretary-general Lim Wei Jiet said in any crime there must be both an intention and action.

"Hence, having sexual orientation itself is not a crime per se. It may arguably only be a crime when someone acts on it, i.e. participating in homosexual intercourse," he told theSun today.

"Section 377A criminalises carnal intercourse against the order of nature. But it is an archaic penal statute enacted in British colonial times. It reflects the conservative zeitgeist at the time.

"And 377A is so wide, even anal sex between heterosexual couples can be considered 'against the order of nature'."

Meanwhile, prominent lawyer Eric Paulsen reminded Mahamad that the provisions in the Penal Code "are a product of a bygone Victorian era that are out of step in today's day and age".

"Values, morality and human rights standards have progressed, and intolerant and bigoted views such as his are no longer acceptable.

"In May 2018, Theresa May apologised for Britain's historical legacy of anti-gay laws across the Commonwealth, which includes Malaysia.

"She also urged the Commonwealth nations to overhaul this outdated colonial-era legislation that had criminalised LGBTs," he said.

"While it may be true that LGBTs in Malaysia have been harassed on the basis of these laws, that does not mean that it is correct to criminalise sexual orientation. In fact, there are few prosecutions under these provisions unless they involve coercion or rape.

"Further these provisions also criminalise 'unnatural sex' for heterosexuals and unnecessarily for LGBTs," he added.

Activist Ho Tuck Loong said Mahamad's call to further criminalise LGBT was "a cruel and inhumane act" to the community.

"You may refuse to grant us dignity and pride, but at least grant us that vaunted Malaysian values of tolerance and compassion, which seems to be evaporating from the fabric of our moderate society," he said.


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