Malaysian states consider new penalties for gays

Mustafa Ali (R), Fadzil Noor (C) and Mahfuz Omar (L). UPALI ATURUGIRI/AFP/Getty Images

Two Malaysian states are considering a change in their Islamic laws so that it is more likely that gay Muslims will suffer under federal and local state laws.

New laws planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give the state governments power to punish gays in addition to national laws which provide for caning and 20 years’ imprisonment.

It appears prison terms could run consecutively under the laws.

Mohd Ali Rustam, chief minister of Malacca, said the state was reviewing its Islamic laws, with the effect that Muslim gays may be tried in court and punished with imprisonment or a fine.

He told Reuters: “So many people like to promote human rights, even up to the point they want to allow lesbian activities and homosexuality.”

“In Islam, we cannot do all this. It is against Islamic law.”

He added that Muslim LGBT people would also be required to attend counselling and that anyone who supported homosexuality could be subject to similar penalties.

About 60 percent of the country’s population of 28 million are Muslims.

A gay arts festival was cancelled by police last week after criticism by politicians and religious leaders.

Last year, Malaysia allowed gays to appear in films for the first time, so long as they turned straight at the end.