Anti-HIV drug PreP will cause LGBTQ+ people to ‘spread’, Malaysian official claims

A Malaysian MP has claimed that issuing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) to those at risk of HIV will cause the number of LGBTQ+ people in the country to “spread”. 

Ahmad Yahya made the bizarre statement when he spoke in the Dewan Rakyat – the lower house of the Malaysian parliament – on Wednesday (15 February). 

Free Malaysia reported him as saying: “I hope the minister will look into this drug programme. This is not because we are against the ministry’s stance to save the lives of those who are at risk of HIV. However, we need a comprehensive approach to ensure that the (number of) gays and the LGBT community does not grow in the country.

“This is the view that should be highlighted by the ministry.”

A person holds a PrEP pill, a medication that prevents a person from contracting HIV.
PrEP can prevent a person contracting HIV. (Getty)

PreP is a medicine than can reduce a person’s chances of getting HIV from sex or sharing needles when taking drugs. When taken as prescribed, it is highly effective.

During the debate, Ahmed went on to say that the Malaysian government’s health ministry should consider the moral and religious implications of providing PreP to citizens, as well as investigate why LGBTQ+ people are “spreading” in the country. 

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“The government must also enact a policy to reject the demands of the LGBT community when it comes to gender identity, which is an issue championed by the community.

“At the same time, the government needs to enact a policy to block social media platforms, based in or outside the country, that contain LGBT elements, and strengthen policies related to family institutions, to reduce LGBT influence entering the country.”

Malaysia criminalises LGBTQ+ people

LGBTQ+ rights in Malaysia simply do not exist.

All 13 states and the federal territory criminalise same-sex relations and gender non-conformity, with the federal penal code punishing anal or oral sex with up to 20 years in prison and caning.

The Human Dignity Trust (HDT) states that both men and women are criminalised under the law, which dates back to colonial times.

While the law does not explicitly criminalise transgender people, they are often arrested.

Since the 2018 election, a crackdown on the LGBT community has been under way, the HDT states, with several reports of arrest, prosecution and corporal punishment.

A high-profile case saw a prominent transgender woman flee the country in 2021 following threats of arrest.

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