Two Malaysian States Set to Double Punishment for Homosexuality: Caning and 20 Years in Prison Not Enough

Following last week's banning of a gay arts festival in Malaysia comes word that two Malaysian states are planning to increase their penalties for homosexuality, Reuters reports:

Pahang_malaysiaHomosexuality is punishable by law in Malaysia by caning and up to 20 years in jail, but the legal amendments planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give the state governments additional ammunition.

If the proposed changes came into force, a Muslim homosexual could be punished under both federal and state religious charges, meaning that jail terms could run consecutively and result in longer time.

Analysts said the proposed amendments hinted at an increasing intolerance toward homosexuality and could erode support for the government among the majority ethnic Malays, who are Muslims by birth.

The new penalties would apply not only to gays but those who support them, according to Malacca Islamic Religious Department chairman  and Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam: "We want to put it in the enactment so that we can enforce it and bring them to our sharia (Islamic law) court. Then we can charge them for promoting or supporting these illegal activities."


  1. says

    Are we giving these two Malaysian States any money for anything? If so, it should stop immediately. People love America, they love the money we lavish on them and we should stop giving money or assistance to ANY country that aims to harm LGBT people.

  2. miles says

    Tell them that they will loose all monies to Maylasia if they continue to harm in anyway the gay community..They should answer to their inhumane and barbaric ways..

  3. miles says

    also, tourism is a Big money maker..So we should tell them they will loose our tourism..Than we should target it if they don’t follow through..It means millions of dollars to them..

  4. Justin says

    Islam is a threat to individual freedoms everywhere and we gays should be the first to see that. Cue the moral relativists with their excuses and apologies.

  5. HoHo says

    Malaysia is a relatively stable country with an economy based on exports of high-grade manufactures. It isn’t, as you guys say it, a hellhole. On a Global Competitiveness Report, it was once called the most competitive among emerging economies.

    Quit with this “aid” arrogance. Do you guys even know whether the US lend Malaysua anything? (I say “lend” because US aids are actually loans.) And if it does, do you know whether it is vital? Did you guys know USAID has programs in China? What now, will you say China will go down if you stop lending your money? Hoho. The world won’t crumble if you guys cease lending it that 1% of your budget that you spend on other countries. It is you who are dependent upon loans from other countries – even from countries that don’t quite appreciate Western values, specially as expressed through gay activism; countries like China and the deep-pocketed Persian Gulf nations.

  6. HoHo says

    Btw, don’t think you guys can put entire nations down on account of their attitudes toward homosexuality. Nowhere in East and Southeast Asia is homosexuality well accepted: at least not in the way it is in the West. In South Korea, for example, only 25% of the population, according to a 2007 Pew poll, say homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged by broader society. What now? will you say South Korea is backwards? Hoho. In China, that percentage is even smaller. And not even in Japan, where homophobia isn’t intense, do gay couples enjoy the sort of rights they have acquired in some Western nations.

  7. Brian says

    Hoho I agree the aid comments are stupid. US aid budgets are tiny, and Malaysia is a relatively prosperous, modern economy so I doubt any US aid is going to Malaysia, and if it is, the country wouldn’t care at all about losing it. However, you’re being silly in saying that Malaysia is the same culturally as the rest of Asia. There may be some cultural sensitivity in some of those other countries, but the gay scenes in all those places are thriving, there are prominent gay people in all walks of life and there are no laws of any sort aimed at gays. Malaysia and Singapore are alone in having anti gay laws due to their British colonial heritage but neither of them used them for a long time. But Malaysia is getting increasingly crazy, with this sort of anti gay laws, the caning of the woman who had a beer, the introduction of sharia courts in several states. It’s clear that the national government wants to promote a modern face to Malaysia but several of the states are intent on returning to the stone age. I hope it’s a passing fad but I fear the country is headed in the wrong direction.

  8. HoHo says

    Nowhere did I say that culturally Malaysia is the same as the rest of Southeast and East Asia. For starters, it is, as far as I know, the only Muslim-majority country in that region. But as I said, all countries in there have in common rejection of gay activism and of homosexuality itself. You may be right about most of them not outlawing homosexuality. But there are other ways for societies to express their bigotry apart from enshrining it in their laws. I don’t know how gays are treated in every single of those nations, how openly they’re allowed to live without being harassed: but make no mistake, East Asian gays are noywhere close to what gays have achieved in Europe, or even in the US and Latin America. Most of those countries – even the more developed ones, such as South Korea and Japan – just aren’t progressing, either fastly or gradually.

    As for the Islamization of their political culture: if I put my ignorance of that country’s social situation aside, I’d guess that that’s the way the government is attempting to enforce stability. In face of social protests against government misbehavior, the government is turning more authoritarian, and is using Islam as a mask to that trend. In other words, it may be that the government is overstretching in face of decadence and is bound to fall soon enough.

  9. Brian says

    Well, I thought you knew something about Asia before I started engaging with you. Obviously you don’t since Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, and you don’t even know that. So I went back and checked your Pew reports; I don’t know which one you’re referring to exactly, but I found one from 2005 which shows that more people in Japan accept homosexuality than in the US. And as for making no mistake, I’ve lived in four different Asian countries, and visited all of them frequently; I am intimately aware of conditions and attitudes towards gays. You’re totally offbase comparing the cultural attitudes towards gays in Asia vs the west. Having split my time between the two, cultural acceptance is much higher in Asia than in the West. I don’t think there’s ever been a gay bashing incident in Asia, there is no societal taboo at all against being gay in much of southeast Asia, most famously in Thailand but in neighboring countries as well, and there are gay pride parades, thriving gay nightlife etc in most of these nations. Of course in private people may express distaste for homosexuality, and parents will prefer to have straight children, but that doesn’t manifest itself into any sort of public intolerance, harassment etc. The flip side of all this cultural “live and let live” attitude is that there are very few laws protecting gays from employment discrimination, allowing gay marriage etc, where the West is inarguably ahead.

    Anyway, this post is about Malaysia, which is trying hard to be the exception to the rule. But if you go there, you’ll see clearly the tension between traditional relaxed attitudes on homosexuality in Asia, and Islam. There are drag queens out in public all over the capital, gay bars and a big gay contingent in all the city’s bars, shopping malls etc. Nobody bats an eye, but at the same time the government for political reasons is being forced into making ever harsher anti gay laws. At some point these are still almost invariably ignored but I think that may change soon, which will come as quite a shock there.

  10. HoHo says

    Well, I did know Indonesia is a Muslim country, and in fact the largest Muslim country in the world. I’m not American – I know my geography. Pardon me for having forgotten to mention the country in here. But that in no way refutes anything what I said. The results of Pew research I was refering to you can see below. I referred to them in the context of South Korean, not Japanese, attitudes toward homosexuality. I think I *said* Japan is not intensely homophobic – only that in it gay couples don’t enjoy any of the rights they have managed to acquire in the West.

    I don’t need to be lectured on perceptions of homosexuality in the region. I have admitted myself that I don’t know how gay couples are treated in the area – only that I know that don’t have *any* of the legal rights available in most Western countries. This is even irrelevant to what we’re discussing here: from the beginning I was discussing legal attitudes towards homosexuality, something at which not even Japan has achieved the same level of tolerance as the West. And btw, gay marriage legalization has nothing to do with protecting gay couples from harassment, not more than traditional marriage was created to protect straight couples. That East Asian countries refuse to recognize gay couples rights can’t thus be explained away as a consequence of their tolerance (hoho). Btw, this is the Pew research I was talking about. The percentage of South Koreans who say homosexuality should be accepted is even smaller than I remembered:

    Anyway, it’s completely unsurprising that your “smokes and mirrors” answer managed to impress Towleroand’s posters, who are mostly bimboes.

  11. Brian says

    Well this is it for me, I think you are terminally stupid, or at least very bad at expressing yourself, so I’m not going to keep going with you; feel free to have the last word You readily admit that you know next to nothing about Asia, but continue to write long posts about it. Your writing style is meandering and self contradictory, but from your last post, where you say “I may be right about these countries not outlawing homosexuality but there are many ways for these cultures to express their bigotry without enshrining it in their laws”, I thought you were agreeing that there are no anti gay laws in most of Asia, but contending that the culture was more anti gay than in the West. So I addressed your incorrect argument, saying really it’s the reverse, that in Asia homosexuality is more culturally accepted but less legally protected than in the West.

    But from your last post I really don’t know what your point is anymore. Your credibility really is terminally undermined when you say you know nothing about Asia, but don’t need to be lectured to about homosexuality in Asia, then proceed to make grand pronouncements about the exact subject you say you know nothing about and don’t care to learn more. Then you say your whole point is about legal rights of gays in Asia, when I see nothing like that in your previous posts. Your first post was about American aid arrogance, your second post was about your perception that Asians are culturally homophobic, and not sure what your third is about. So if you really believe that your posts have just been about legal protections for gays in Asia, you really need to learn to express yourself properly because that point is utterly lost. You should also stop inserting “hoho” in your paragraphs, because it furthers the impression that you’re not playing with a full deck.

  12. HoHo says

    It’s funny that you say it is me who’s trying to have the last word. My last post was only a reply to a very arrogant post of yours.

    I didn’t say I know next to nothing about Asia. I said I don’t know – or even care about – how gay couples live in the region. My interest in there is just wider than those petty issues. I bet I know way more about Asian economies and ancient cultures than you managed to learn by visiting drag queen bars in Thailand.

    And yes, Asian is so avant garde in regards to homosexuality, that in its biggest country, China, only 15% of the populace believe homosexuality should be accepted by society. (Btw, can you explain how your stories about Asian cultures being so gay-friendly are NOT refuted by opinion polling data from the region?) If you know so much about the gay lifestyle in those countries, you must know that in China it isn’t uncommon for gay venues to suffer disturbance by the police – surely not indication of acceptance of homosexuality in that country at the cultural level; not an indication that gay nightlife thrives like it does in big Western centers. South Korea, which has a large Christian population, is probably not much better in this respect.

  13. test says

    what I was discussing in the first place. Don’t complain that I addressed your moronic points. As for my point about legal rights, it’s the following: whether or not gay couples can live, openly and without harassment, in the region (something in which I don’t really believe, your anecdotes notwithstanding), the fact is that this isn’t reflected in their legal systems, that is, East Asian countries have by and large rejected the approach to homosexuality that Western societies and governments have adopted of late.

  14. test says

    OK, I have to apologize because Towleroad or Typepad won’t allow me to post a full text. I’m trying for hours to get one single post of mine to be published on this website and I’m not having any success. The above was only part of an answer that I copied and pasted incomplete.

  15. coup d'oeil says

    As for my point about legal rights, it’s the following: whether or not gay couples can live, openly and without harassment, in the region (something in which I don’t really believe, your anecdotes notwithstanding), the fact is that this isn’t reflected in their legal systems, that is, East Asian countries have by and large rejected the approach to homosexuality that Western societies and governments have adopted of late. They have rejected gay activism. And whether or not there are legal sanctions against homosexuality, Asian gay couples lag way behind Western gays when it comes to legal equality.

  16. coup d'oeil says

    I did try to argue, in spite of my ignorance of Asian modern urban cultures, that Asians are culturally homophobic as well. I later diluted that claim because of your “correction” – though now I’m doubting your stories in light of data from the region indicating that social rejection of homosexuality is overwhelming; that on this variable Asia (except for Japan) is closer to Africa and the Middle East than to the West. And THAT doesn’t make any of them “backwards”. That’s all. Now you can talk about drags, or gay marriage being unnecessary because Asian society is so tolerant, and other such observations you’ve made by visiting sex points in bid cities.

  17. coup d'oeil says

    The arguments I wanted to make you read in my first 2 posts – Malaysia isn’t just a “hellhole” that Towleroad bloggers should think they can bully around until it accepts their ways. And that a country has conservative attitudes in regards to homosexuality doesn’t make it backwards. It was YOU who changed the subject to gay bars and drags walking on the street so you could flaunt your “knowledge” on the area, even though that wasn’t really what I was discussing in the first place. Don’t complain that I addressed your dumb arguments.

  18. coup d'oeil says

    Btw, it is you who seem not to be playing with your full deck when you make such arguments that East Asian doesn’t need gay marriage because it is already so tolerant. It makes me think whether you’ve actually been to the region, or you’re just speaking based on stories about Thai trannies being widely accepted by society. But then again, I don’t think I could expect anything better from a Towleroad poster.

  19. Supporter says

    I think the U.S. should stop aiding other countries all together. Who cares about whether they accept homosexuals or not. Quit relying on the U.S. to help out…Fend for yourselves.

  20. Supporter says

    Also, homosexuality is not a choice. Why do people even care what other people do if it’s not effecting them. I know as a homosexual I could care less what other people, let alone other countries think about how I live my life. There are more important things that people need to worry about. Live your life, and we will live ours how we were created to live it. That’s why we have hate crimes because of people that waste their time and effort worried about who is sleeping with who.

  21. Karl Hendrix says

    also, tourism is a Big money maker..So we should tell them they will loose our tourism..Than we should target it if they don’t follow through..It means millions of dollars to them..

    Posted by: miles | Nov 11, 2011 8:46:08 PM

    Dear Miles,

    First of all, the whole world knows that Americans do not travel much. I spent a solid 5 years working and traveling across Asia, Australia, and Europe… and guess what, I don’t meet that many Americans. However, there were tonnes of people from other countries whom I’ve met.

    Having said that, I however, don’t blame the Americans for not travelling much. Your bunch thinks that your country has everything and there isn’t any need to see other parts of the world. You guys don’t feel the need to experience/discover/learn from other people. And that is YOUR loss.

    Having said all these much… go on, tell the other Americans to not visit Malaysia. I believe Malaysia won’t be affected at all.

    stop condemning a country for its not-so-liberal attitude towards the gay community. while malaysia probably puts a lot of restrictions on the LGBT community, at least they don’t go around bombing other countries in the name of ‘enlightenment’ or ‘freedom’. seriously, how does your president sleep at night?

    ps: i am gay.

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