20070704121352!Anwar_980416Kuala Lumpur:  Human Rights Watch has called on the Malaysian Government to stop trying to have Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim prosecuted over claims he had sex with men, reports gaystarnews.com.

The International human rights group also urged Malaysia to put an end its colonial era ban on gay sex.

The Malaysian Government has often attempted to have Ibrahim jailed over claims he has had sex with men in what is widely viewed as an effort to keep the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in power, reports gaystarnews.com.

BN has ruled Malaysia since 1974 and Anwar is a former BN MP turned vocal critic of the government.

The government had Anwar arrested in 1998 for alleged corruption, claiming he interfered with a police investigation into sexual misconduct and was jailed until 2004.

The Kuala Lumpur Court of Appeal is slated to hear the government’s appeal of a 2012 High Court decision to acquit Anwar of violating the colonial era article 377 on sodomy of the Malaysian penal code. Human Rights Watch used the occasion to call for the scrapping of the article.

Should the appeals court overturn the acquittal, Anwar would face up to 20 years in prison and whipping under separate Islamic laws that apply only to Muslims in Malaysia.

This is the fourth time that the Malaysian Government has tried to have Anwar charged under article 377, a law that has been invoked only seven times since 1938.

Section 377 does not distinguish between consensual same-sex acts and rape and Human Rights Watch has called for it to be replaced with a gender-neutral rape law.

‘Anwar’s trial would be farcical were the penalties not so severe and the trial’s message to Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community not so grave,’ deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson said.

‘Malaysia’s government should cease criminalizing consensual sexual relations and discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,’ Robertson said in the gaystarnews.com report.

‘Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government should recognize both in law and practice that LGBT rights are human rights,’ he added.

Source: gaystarnews.com

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