Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) said it is under pressure to remove the clause prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation from its proposed anti-discrimination law.
“The working committee of the NUCC believes strongly that this (clause) should remain, for obvious reasons. Why is LGBT considered a bad word?”said Lim Chee Wee, deputy chairman of the NUCC law and policy committee.
He admitting that his council is facing objections from a few political parties to drop the clause prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation
“Some segments in Malaysian society want to demonize the (LGBT) community,” Lim said at a June 24 press conference.
The National Unity Consultative Council was established in 2013 and is mandated by the Prime Minister to prepare a national blueprint for national unity and social cohesion.
Its original National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill 2014, which is in the draft stage, prohibits gender discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, sexual orientation and identity.
It is also proposing the Racial, Religious and Hate Crimes Bill, which outlaws hate speech, and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill that will inquire into complaints of discrimination.
“The bills’ aim is very clear and is a part of the NUCC initiative to strengthen unity, national integration, equality and prevent unfair discrimination,” said NUCC committee member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who was also at today’s press conference.
However, some Muslim groups such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) as well as the government have attacked the LGBT minority as being “un-Islamic,” according to themalaymailonline.com.
The Home Ministry for example outlawed human rights coalition Comango for what it described as promoting sexual rights contrary to Islam because its report touched on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
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 crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia and is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.