KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has insisted that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s views about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community do not differ from his.
Anwar, who is prime minister-in-waiting, chuckled when asked by Al Jazeera English’s UpFront programme host Mehdi Hassan about the seeming contradiction.
Mehdi noted that Dr Wan Azizah had said it is “haram” or forbidden for Muslims to support the LGBT community or their fight for equality, and that they should keep their practices behind closed doors, while Anwar himself said that sexual orientation is up to the individual.
But Anwar, after laughing, replied: “Azizah is an intelligent leader in her own right.
“What she said precisely was that the sexual act is haram, and that is not disputed in any Islamic text or religious texts. I don’t see a contradiction between my views and hers on this.”
In the same interview, Anwar maintained his stand, expressed previously, that Malaysia’s laws against sodomy are “archaic” and should be amended.
“This is not only archaic, it is British colonial laws, introduced in India and replicated in Malaysia. It is completely unjust because one can be just accused, and without any proper evidence or, in my case clearly.
“What’s important is if we have a case against homosexuality, then it must be done in a transparent manner,” he told Mehdi.
“The laws must be amended to ensure there’s justice in the process and is not a matter of sexual orientation.
“It’s what you perform or you display publicly, which is against the norms of the majority of Malaysians, not only Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists alike in this country,” he added.
Sodomy is punishable as a criminal offence in Malaysia through Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.
The offence is punishable with imprisonment up to 20 years, and also whipping.
Anwar was sent to prison twice over sodomy charges, which he insisted had been political persecution.
He received a royal pardon in May while serving a five-year jail term since February 2015 over the second sodomy case.