Petaling Jaya: The Malaysian military has the toughest stand against homosexuality in Asia, an international study tracking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion in armed forces worldwide has shown.
According to the LGBT Military Index 2014 that appeared in thestar.com.my, Malaysia came out 92nd out of a list of 103 countries, marking its armed forces as the 12th most hostile towards homosexuals.
Released by The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, an independent research group of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, the study ranked New Zealand for having the most gay-inclusive army in the world.
Thailand, according to the index, was shown to have the most gay-friendly military (48th) in South-east Asia, followed by the Philippines (50th), Vietnam (53rd) and Indonesia (67th).
There is no data on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Singapore.
The study covers 19 policies about LGBT participation in the military. It is divided according to inclusion, admission, tolerance, exclusion and persecution categories.
Malaysia retains Section 377A a Victorian-era British colonial law banning “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” Malaysia is one of the 41 Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is outlawed.
Malaysia bans sodomy (as well as oral sex), broadly defined to include both heterosexual and homosexual acts, with possible punishment including fines, prison sentences of up to twenty years, and even public whipping.
In 2010, the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia announced it would only allow depiction of homosexual characters as long as the characters “repent” or die.
thestar.com.my cited a Feb 24, 2005 report by a local English daily cited then navy chief Datuk Seri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor as saying that homosexuals would be barred from serving on its ships.
“We do not condone such (unnatural sex) acts… will never accept them (homosexuals) as we have to protect the (image of the) navy,” he was quoted as saying.
At the time, he was commenting on a report that Britain’s Royal Navy was recruiting homosexuals.
Then Defence Deputy Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin was quoted by AP as saying that homosexuality was against Islam and violated local laws.
In 2001, the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that the country will deport any visiting foreign cabinet ministers or diplomats who are gay.
In 1994, the government banned anyone who is homosexual, bisexual or transsexual from appearing in the state-controlled media.
In 1995 a Religious Affairs Minister praised the Islamic Badar vigilante groups for assisting in the arrest of 7,000 for engaging in “unIslamic” activities such as homosexuality.
Though many Malaysians are generally tolerant towards toward LGBT individuals, government and social attitudes towards the LGBT community are shaped by Islam, the official religion in Malaysia.