Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister has said that LGBT+ people shouldn’t be visibly out.
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail warned that queer citizens must keep their identities secret to be accepted by society.
The country’s religious affairs minister, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, attracted global attention earlier this month when he ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.
Speaking about the controversy, he said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”
Since then, a series of political figures – including members of the Government – have voiced disturbing views about Malaysia’s LGBT+ populace.
The latest to do so, Dr Wan Azizah, appeared to conflate gay people with the entire LGBT+ community when she told the Malay Mail: “LGBTs have the right to practise whatever [it is] they do in private.
The MP for Pandan, who is the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Prime Minister, added: “Islam is the official religion [of Malaysia], whereby you have certain practices and it is there in black and white.
“As a Muslim, I have my preferences as to their rights. They are the same [rights] as the people who do not believe in Islam,” the 65-year-old continued.
She added: “Homosexuality, there are laws [against it].”
It is illegal to have gay sex in Malaysia, there are no anti-discrimination laws, same-sex marriage is banned and same-sex couples and transgender people enjoy zero legal recognition from the state.
Dr Wan Azizah’s husband, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, has been charged twice for having gay sex, serving three years in prison before he was released earlier this year. Human rights groups have said his convictions were politically motivated.
The surge of anti-LGBT+ sentiment in the country continued in the early hours of Saturday (August 18) morning, when police raided The Blue Boy club, a gay bar in Kuala Lumpur.
Authorities said they intervened to “mitigate the LGBT culture from spreading into our society.”
Last week, Latteffah Ali, state chairperson of the women’s wing of the United Malays National Organisation, said that if LGBT+ people keep pushing for equal rights, it could destroy the health and ethics of a generation.
Also earlier this month, Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister, Dr Lee Boon Chye, said LGBT people suffer from an “organic disorder.”
Two women in the country have also been sentenced to six lashings each after being arrested for having sex with each other.
The country groups gay sex together with bestiality in a list of offences which are “against the order of nature.”
The women, who are 32 and 22, pleaded guilty after sharia enforcement officials in the northeastern state of Terengganu found them having sex in a car with a dildo.
They have also been fined RM3,300 (£630) each, and told that they will face a four-month prison term if they fail to pay.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mahfuz Omar has said LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.
In April, a Malaysian university held a contest to convert gay students.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia, based on the island of Penang, advertised the competition as “a campaign to invite friends who have [a] disorder in [their] sexual orientation to return to their natural nature in a worthwhile way.”
This came just two months after a newspaper in the country published a checklist which provided guidance about “how to spot a gay”.