Agong can be probed for ‘criminalising homosexuality’, academics claim in leaked paper

A group of academics allegedly warned the Conference of Rulers that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality. — File picture courtesy of Twitter/bernamadotcom
A group of academics allegedly warned the Conference of Rulers that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality. — File picture courtesy of Twitter/bernamadotcom

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — A group of academics have allegedly warned the Conference of Rulers that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) may be probed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality.

In their purported executive summary on the Rome Statute leaked by a group of student activists, the academics pointed out that “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender” counts as a crime against humanity that can be blamed on the YDPA.

“ICC can initiate an investigation on this issue and the government, Parliament and YDPA who passes and drafts the laws can be held responsible,” said the paper.

Article 66 of the Constitution states that Bills passed by Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara need the assent of the YDPA.

There is no federal blanket ban on homosexuality in Malaysia. However, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” is an offence under Section 377A of the Penal Code, which included anal and oral sex for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Article 7 of the Rome Statute states that persecution against any group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender basis counts as one of “crimes against humanity”.

The criminalisation of homosexuality was one of the two “high risks” under the Statute highlighted by the academics, including the involvement of Malaysian armed forces personnel under the United Nations peacekeeping force.

“Malaysia is responsible towards this army if they commit an offence during their mission,” the paper said.

The paper was purportedly prepared by Universiti Teknologi Mara’s deputy vice-chancellor and dean of Faculty of Law Prof Datuk Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University of Malaysia’s law lecturer Assoc Prof Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s law lecturers Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi.

Malay Mail is currently seeking comments from the four academics.

The nine student activists who leaked the paper claimed that it was presented to the Conference of Rulers on April 2.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah confirmed that the rulers held an informal meeting on that date to discuss the issue, and Rahmat was among the four people called besides himself.

On Friday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government was forced to bow out due to political pressure from opponents who spread unnecessary fear and confusion in public.

He also said critics of the Rome Statute wanted to trigger a row between the country’s monarchy and the new government, accusing them of engaging in a political move “to get the rulers to back them up.”