Putrajaya still keen to amend RUU355 when Parliament sits, wants harsher laws against LGBT

Free Malaysia Today reported minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad saying that this will be done by increasing the limits of punishments against Shariah offences in the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355 or RUU355 in Malay. — Reuters pic
Free Malaysia Today reported minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad saying that this will be done by increasing the limits of punishments against Shariah offences in the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355 or RUU355 in Malay. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Putrajaya is reportedly set to move forward with imposing heavier punishments against Muslim lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, despite objections from many including the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Free Malaysia Today reported minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad saying that this will be done by increasing the limits of punishments against Shariah offences in the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355 or RUU355 in Malay.

“We cannot accept such practices. We just need to manage the issue with wisdom, inviting and educating them to return to the right path,” he was quoted saying, referring to the LGBT community.

He said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration will table the amendment in Parliament in the future, if it is approved by the Cabinet.

“If there are no obstructions and the situation allows for it, we will go to Parliament [to table it] soon,” he reportedly said.

Currently, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin and the PN government still refuse to let the Parliament sit, despite the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s call that it can still be done amid the Emergency.

Act 355 currently provides for a maximum of three year imprisonment, a fine of RM5,000, and six strokes of the cane for Shariah offences, but proponents of its amendment such as Zukifli’s deputy Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary from Islamist party PAS argued they are “ineffective”.

Even as he confirmed his intention to increase punishment against LGBT Muslims, Zulkifli urged cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman to come forward after a warrant for her arrest was issued.

He then encouraged Sajat to hash out any issues with the department so that any issues could be resolved more peacefully, after she missed a Shariah Court hearing date in February this year concerning a case brought against her almost three years ago.

Nur Sajat’s absence from proceedings then triggered a search party by Jais, who had said it empowered 122 personnel and enforcement officers to find and arrest Nur Sajat.

The Shariah Court charge against Nur Sajat was made under Section 10(a) of the Shariah Crimes (State of Selangor) Enactment 1995 which provides for a sentence not exceeding RM5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both, if convicted.

Section 10 refers to the Shariah offence of insulting Islam or causing Islam to be insulted either by mocking or blaspheming the faith and its associated practices and rituals either in a written, pictorial or photographic form.

The charges were allegedly connected to a religious event that she organised in 2018 where she appeared in a baju kurung.

Nur Sajat had through an Instagram live broadcast recently denied she is evading capture from the authorities but was instead keeping a low profile on social media.

Nur Sajat has been the subject of intense scrutiny by authorities and some members of the public over her gender identity.

Most recently, she had posted on her social media that she is considering renouncing Islam, ostensibly due to the persecution and attacks she faces from religious authorities and the Muslim public.

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