KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — Putrajaya yesterday said it is opposing a call by newly-minted US President Joe Biden’s for the superpower’s agencies to protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities globally.
Malay daily Berita Harian reported religious affairs minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad as saying that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is “violating the norms” of human behaviour.
“This is because it is against Islamic law and we do not support any campaign that is labelled as LGBTIQ in this country,” he was quoted saying referring to the federal government, using the initials that also included intersex and queer persons.
“This matter has been accepted and acknowledged by all the cultures of Malaysian communities, overall in Malaysia.”
Zulkifli however said that he is reserving his opposition for intersex persons, which he said is recognised by the Muslim faith, and therefore should not be lumped together in the LGBTIQ category.
Despite Zulkifli’s remark, not all communities in Malaysia are opposed to the minority community and agree to the restrictions set by the Muslim-dominated federal government.
Last week, Biden had issued a presidential memorandum committing the United States to protect the safety and rights of LGBTIQ persons worldwide.
NBC News reported that the Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World directed American agencies operating overseas “to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons”.
The memorandum also calls for agencies to combat criminalisation of LGBTIQ identity or conduct, protect LGBTIQ refugees and asylum-seekers, address human rights abuses affecting LGBTIQ persons, and work with like-minded nations and international organisations to combat discrimination.
Malaysia has had a poor track record in treating the marginalised LGBT community, regardless of the political coalition that holds power — from Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan to the now Perikatan Nasional.
Most recently, Putrajaya was slammed by human rights defenders after Zulkifli’s deputy Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary from Islamist party PAS proposed harsher punishments against the LGBT community under the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355.
LGBT Muslims already face a number of Shariah offences directed at them under Shariah law, and remain among marginalised groups which are now even more affected by the pandemic due to public stigma.