mahathir-mohamad-490775Kuala Lumpur: Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, has urged citizens to stand firm in their religion to avoid being gay.

“If you understand your religion, you will never be gay,” the 88-year-old said after a lecture in the International Islamic University Malaysia in the Malaysian capital, according to

The former prime minister said same-sex relations is now prevalent because the gay and lesbian communities have been following their emotions and lust and said it would not exist if people were strong in their religious beliefs.

Mahathir was answering a question by a student  who asked for a way to curb the spread of the LGBT movement in Malaysia.

Mahathir said that one of the dangers posed by the LGBT community is that they cannot have children, despite religion prescribing sex for uses of procreation.

“It is good that they are having gay marriages, very soon they will disappear,” Mahathir added.

Mahathir was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia and held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister. His political career spanned almost 40 years and to a large extent shaped the Malaysia of today.

Mahathir is rabidly anti-gay and in 2001 as prime minister stated that Malaysia will deport any visiting foreign cabinet ministers or diplomats who are gay. He also warned gay ministers in foreign countries not to bring along their partners while visiting the nation.

His and the government’s attitude towards the LGBT community is shaped by Islam, the official religion in Malaysia. Malaysia also retains “Section 377A” a British colonial-era law banning “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and outlaws same-sex relations.

Same-sex relations is a is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia and is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has objected to the inclusion of LGBT rights when signing the regional country grouping Asean’s first human rights charter in 2012, saying Malaysia could not accept principles that went against the order of human nature.

In the same year, the Education Ministry promulgated a guideline on “spotting homosexuality” symptoms among schoolchildren but was later forced to rescind after it triggered widespread disapproval.

However, Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who was the then-deputy education minister, said in March last year that his ministry may look into extending a seminar on parents on how to curb LGBT activities to all districts.

International news wire Reuters recently reported the federal government is acknowledging working to curb the same-sex “problem” prevalent among Muslims who form 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

Same-sex relations is highly taboo in Malaysia’s religiously-conservative society, and  among followers of Islam.