KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) said today that it might remove the clause prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation from its proposed anti-discrimination law because of political pressure.
Lim Chee Wee, deputy chairman of the NUCC law and policy committee, said the council had faced objections from a few political parties, but declined to name them or elaborate on the grounds of their protest.
“Some segments in Malaysian society want to demonise the community,” Lim said at a press conference.
“The working committee of the NUCC believes strongly that this (clause) should remain, for obvious reasons. Why is LGBT considered a bad word?” he added, using the acronym for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Muslim groups such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) and the government have attacked the LGBT minority as being “un-Islamic”.
In January, the Home Ministry outlawed human rights coalition Comango for allegedly promoting sexual rights contrary to Islam.
The 54-member human rights coalition had submitted a report last year for the Universal Periodic Review, a United Nations human rights peer review held every four and a half years, where they had touched on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and race and freedom of religion, among other issues.
In NUCC’s original National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill 2014, which is in the draft stage, Clause 7 prohibits gender discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, sexual orientation and identity, the denial of access to opportunities, and the systemic inequality of access to opportunities by a gender as a result of the sexual division of labour.
Besides the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill, the NUCC is also proposing two other laws - the Racial, Religious and Hate Crimes Bill, which outlaws hate speech, and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill, which details the functions of the commission that will inquire into complaints of discrimination.
NUCC committee member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who was also at today’s press conference, said the three bills have received positive feedback when the council consulted with several civil society groups, university students, MPs and political parties.
“The bills’ aim is very clear and is a part of the NUCC initiative to strengthen unity, national integration, equality and prevent unfair discrimination,” he said.