KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community have a right to exist in Malaysia if they keep their “practice” behind closed doors, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
However, she advised the minority group against seeking to “glamourise” their private lives, telling them to understand that in Malaysia is a country where the “official religion” is Islam.
“LGBTs have the right to practise whatever [it is] they do in private,” she told Malay Mail in an exclusive interview.
“Islam is the official religion [of Malaysia], whereby you have certain practices and it is there in black and white.
“As a Muslim, I have my preferences as to their rights… it is the same [rights] as the people who do not believe in Islam,” Dr Wan Azizah explained.
She also stressed that as a Muslim, she does not condone or support the LGBT community.
Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony”.
In addition, the Pandan MP pointed out that existing laws prohibit “homosexuality”, and referenced Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” as proof.
“Homosexuality, there are laws [against it],” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah’s own husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had been charged and sentenced for sodomy under the abovementioned Section, twice. He has maintained his innocence, claiming political persecution.
She was asked to comment on the recent debate surrounding minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s meeting with transgender advocate Nisha Ayub.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has insisted that comments he made to the press after the meeting were not orders or directives, but his personal views on matters such as the use of gender-specific washrooms by transgenders, among others.
Mujahid also asked detractors to stop manipulating his remarks or drawing conclusions from these, saying he was not bending over backwards to accommodate the LGBT community.
Mujahid courted controversy when he ordered organisers at the George Town Festival 2018 to remove the portraits of LGBT activists Pang Khee Teik and Nisha last week.
He met with Nisha in an attempt to defuse the situation, but the meeting only served to renew the controversy.
Attention on the treatment of the LGBTs was heightened following a recent mass assault against a transgender in Seremban, Negri Sembilan that left the victim in a hospital with multiple injuries.
Dr Wan Azizah’s deputy, DAP’s Hannah Yeoh, issued a statement jointly with Lim Kit Siang’s aide, civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan, to condemn provocative remarks that the two said may have fuelled the violence against transgenders.