KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry has now denied reports quoting its minister as saying that there were no gays in Malaysia, after public backlash on the matter.
A report by Singapore Straits Times (ST) quoted the ministry clarifying the issue, saying that what Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi meant to say was that there were no tourism campaigns focused on the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.
The ministry added there were no plans in the works to hold such campaigns in the future.
“As a main tourism destination in Asia, Malaysia has never and will not do anything to stop our guests based on their sexual orientation, religion and cultural beliefs,” the ministry was quoted in the report.
Mohammadin had during an event in Berlin, Germany insinuated that homosexuality did not exist in Malaysia after being asked if it was a safe travel destination for the LGBTQ community.
The ST report quoted the ministry saying it had its own stand on global issues, LGBTQ included.
The ministry also acknowledged existing laws put in place to protect tourist spots from human degradation, to increase the level of respect for local values and culture while conserving wildlife and local landscapes.
“These laws must be respected and followed, not just by foreign tourists but Malaysians as well,” said the ministry.
The report also quoted MCA Deputy President Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who chided the minister and urged that the latter clarify his questionable statement which made Malaysia a laughing stock.
“All he needed to say was that Malaysia is a safe country and every tourist is safe here.
“Instead, he made this outlandish remark that homosexuality does not exist in Malaysia.
“Malaysia does not ask or care about the sexual orientation of tourists,” Dr Mah was quoted in the report, adding that he hoped Mohamaddin would not resort to claiming he was misquoted by the media.
“It’s clear that some of them are non-performers, and that they need to be dropped soon,” Dr
Mah said, adding that a growing number of Malaysians were expressing doubts over the competency of several appointed ministers.