Malaysia among world’s most morally conservative countries, poll finds

A poll today found that 88 per cent of Malaysians who took the survey are also staunchly against homosexuality. File photo of an Indian participant gesturing during a Rainbow Pride Walk in Kolkata. — AFP pic
A poll today found that 88 per cent of Malaysians who took the survey are also staunchly against homosexuality. File photo of an Indian participant gesturing during a Rainbow Pride Walk in Kolkata. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Malaysia is among the world’s most morally conservative countries, with strong opposition to issues involving sex, gambling and consumption of alcohol, according to a recent poll by Pew Research Center. 

In the Washington-based research group’s Global Views on Morality survey released this week, Malaysia was among the ten countries most opposed to contraceptives, alcohol, extramarital affairs, homosexuality and abortion.

Among 40 countries polled, Malaysia was the fourth most opposed to the use of contraceptives, after Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana.

Forty per cent of Malaysians polled thought that using contraceptives is morally unacceptable, 21 per cent thought it was morally acceptable while 23 per cent thought it was not a moral issue.

The poll found that almost all Malaysians are opposed to extramarital affairs, with 90 per cent finding it morally unacceptable.

Malaysians are also staunchly against homosexuality, with 88 per cent of the respondents seeing it as morally unacceptable.

The respondents also had similar attitude towards premarital sex, with 87 per cent finding it unacceptable.

Meanwhile, 79 per cent of Malaysians opposed abortion, 76 per cent were against gambling, and 70 per cent found use of alcohol unacceptable.

However, less than half of Malaysians polled thought that divorce was morally unacceptable, at 45 per cent.

According to the poll, Malaysia was in the top 10 list of countries most opposed to alcohol consumption (9th), extramarital affairs (9th), homosexuality (9th), and abortion (10th).

Pew surveyed 822 respondents in Peninsular Malaysian face-to-face between March and April last year.

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, the use of contraceptives has remained low, with sex education focusing instead on abstinence.

Most government hospitals and clinics have also reportedly asked for proof of marriage before dispensing oral contraceptives, even for non-Muslims.

Homosexuality is also heavily stigmatised, with Section 377A and 377B of the Penal Code criminalising anal and oral sex.

The gaming industry and sale of alcohol are also restricted to non-Muslims, and Muslims can be whipped under Shariah law for drinking.

Islamists have also been pushing for the implementation of the controversial Islamic penal code of hudud, where Muslims can be stoned to death if found guilty of adultery.