LGBTQ have rights too, Suhakam tells PAS deputy minister

AMID calls by a deputy minister to impose harsher punishment on the LGBTQ community, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) reminded the former that no law should ever impinge on human rights.

“All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have the same fundamental rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including their right to privacy and to live with dignity.

“We urge the Government adopt a more compassionate approach by respecting human rights for all through continuous dialogues and awareness raising programmes with the relevant stakeholders,” it said, in a statement.

Two days ago, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said the Government may amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) to provide for heavier punishments against the LGBTQ community.

He also said that the current legislation, which imposes a three-year imprisonment, a fine of RM5,000 and six strokes of the cane, was not sufficient enough against the LGBTQ community.

“This amendment should be seen as necessary to address their ‘wrongdoings’,” Marzuk was reported saying.

Suhakam, however, reminded the deputy minister that any amendments to Act 355 must comply with human rights standards, both local and international.

The human rights body added that all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including whipping, are prohibited under international human rights standards, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

“Over the years, we have called for the repeal of corporal punishment in all laws, both civil and Syariah, to be in compliance with international human rights standards.

“Whipping a female offender under the State Syariah Enactments violates the equality provision (Article 8 of the Federal Constitution) since the Federal Criminal Procedure Code exempts female offenders from whipping for offences under federal law,” Suhakam remarked.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin urged Asean nations take a tougher stance against hate speech, including harassment based on gender or sexual orientation, in his keynote speech at the first online Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting today.

“Asean could consider stronger legislation pertaining to hate speech that, among others, compels digital platforms to remove or punish anyone who promotes violence and attacks, verbal or physical, against people based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or nationality,” the Pagoh MP was reported saying. – Jan 21, 2021.

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