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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Legal action filed over ban of book 'Gay is Okay!'

 


The home minister and the Malaysian government have been hauled to court over a ban on the book Gay is Okay! A Christian Perspective.

Publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and the book’s author Ngeo Boon Lin filed the judicial review leave application to quash the prohibition order dated Nov 27 last year.

On Dec 18 last year, Bernama reported that the Home Ministry gazetted a prohibition order effective Nov 27 for two publications among them being the book Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. 

The ministry’s chief secretary Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz reportedly said that the publication had been banned for content that might be detrimental to public order, morals and public interest.

Through law firm Messrs AmerBon, the legal action was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Feb 17 this year.

According to cause papers sighted by Malaysiakini today, the two judicial review leave applicants claimed the ban was irrational and disproportionate as no untoward incidents were triggered by the book since its publication over seven years ago.

“The book has been in publication for over seven years. In fact, part one of the book had been published in the period from 2010 to 2011.

“The first respondent (minister) has failed to provide any reasons as to how the book is likely to be prejudicial to public order, which is likely to be prejudicial to morality and which is likely to be prejudicial to the public interest.

“In light of the matters stated above, the ban is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it,” the two applicants contended.

The duo also claimed that they were not given an opportunity to be heard before the ban was imposed.

They contended that their right to be heard was enshrined under Articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution and that they have a legitimate expectation to be heard as the book had been in publication since September 2013.

Article 5 deals with the right to life and personal liberty while Article 8 enshrines the right to equality before the law and entitlement to equal protection of the law.

No objection

“The applicants came to know of the ban from online media reports published on Dec 18, 2020, following a media statement issued by the chief secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz on the same day,” they claimed.

The duo further contended that despite their lawyers having issued a legal letter dated Feb 2 this year giving a seven-day ultimatum to revoke the ban, no reply was forthcoming from the minister. They claimed that no reasons were given for the ban.

The two applicants also contended that the minister has a duty to provide reasons for the ban as it involves a violation of their fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution.

According to the cause papers, the book provides an alternative view from a Christian perspective on whether homosexuality must be opposed, among other things.

When contacted by Malaysiakini today, the duo’s counsel Michael Cheah revealed that his clients have been granted leave to commence with the judicial review.

The lawyer explained this is because the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) which represented the two respondents (the minister and the government) had raised no objection to the leave application.

Cheah said that the High Court granted leave during proceedings conducted via an exchange of emails earlier today.

He added that with leave obtained, the court will later fix a hearing date to hear submissions from parties over the merits of the judicial review proper.

The legal action is fixed for case management on April 13. - Mkini

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