Malaysia Prime Minister rejects LGBT rights as ‘Western values’

The Prime Minister of Malaysia has described LGBT+ rights as “Western values.”

The Malaysian PM Mahathir bin Mohamad made the comments while speaking to students at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand on Thursday (October 25).

“Sometimes Asians accept Western values without questioning. We should be free not to change our values according to their wishes,” the 93-year-old leader said, quoted in the Nikkei Asian Review.

While Thailand has liberalised on LGBT+ issues and is making steps towards recognising same-sex partnerships, LGBT people have faced a clampdown in Malaysia, where homosexuality is still illegal.

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad (KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty)

As in many Commonwealth countries, gay sex is banned in Malaysia under a British Colonial-era penal code. A state-level form of Sharia law also operates in part of the country banning homosexuality and cross-dressing, which is used to persecute LGBT+ people.

The Malaysian leader failed to acknowledge LGBT+ rights as human rights, framing them instead as a matter of cultural differences.

“At this moment, we do not accept LGBT, but if they [the West] want to accept, that is their business. Don’t force it on us,” he said.

“The institution of marriage, the institution of the family has now been disregarded in the West. Why should we follow that? Our value system is as good.

“If [the West] one day decided to walk around naked, do we have to follow?”


He then proceeded to attack LGBT+ families.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty)

He said, according to Bloomberg: “For example in the West now, men marry men, women marry women, and then the family is not made up of father, mother and child, but it’s two men adopting one child from somebody.

“They call themselves a family.”

Malaysia has taken a sharp shift against LGBT+ rights over the past few months, with a climate of fear and hostility leading to a crackdown on the gay community.

On August 18, police raided The Blue Boy club, a gay bar in Kuala Lumpur.

Two women in the state of Terengganu state were caned on September 3, receiving six lashes each after they were convicted of having a consensual same-sex relationship.

Malaysian schoolchildren wave national flags. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty)

The Malaysian government is stacked with opponents of LGBT+ rights.

In August, the country’s religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.

He said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”

The same month, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ordered gay people to keep their sexuality secret, while Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye claimed that LGBT+ people suffer from an “organic disorder.”

Mahfuz Omar, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.