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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Amending Act 355 will fuel violence against LGBT, warns rights group

 

Rights group Article 19 calls for the government to adopt progressive policies that protect and empower the LGBT community. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: A rights group has warned the government against amending the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), saying it could fuel more discrimination and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Nalini Elumalai, Article 19’s Malaysia programme officer, said the LGBT community must not be excluded from the government’s commitment to uphold human rights for all without discrimination, as stated in the Federal Constitution.

“Marginalisation driven by intolerance and ignorance will continue to create barriers to equality and opportunity for the LGBT community.

“The government must also amend laws that criminalise LGBT and adopt progressive policies that protect and empower the community,” she said in a statement.

Nalini Elumalai.

Nalini also accused the authorities of using “public condemnation and discriminatory legislation” to target people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“At a time when communities are banding together to support each other through the pandemic, officials are weaponising laws to further isolate the LGBT.”

Yesterday, religious affairs minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said Putrajaya would go ahead and increase the sentencing limits under Act 355, which currently empowers shaariah courts to impose maximum sentences of three years’ jail, a fine of RM5,000, and six strokes of the rotan.

Zulkifli told reporters that the amendments to the Act would likely be tabled in the next Parliament sitting as the LGBT culture was “against Islamic law and human nature”.

His deputy, Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, was previously reported to have said that the amendment should be seen as necessary to address LGBT “wrongdoings” and for action to be taken against those who do not dress according to their gender. - FMT

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