Homosexuality 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."