Malaysian wins landmark challenge against Muslim gay sex ban

A ban on same-sex or sex ‘against the order of nature’ in the state of Selangor in Malaysia is reversed by a court.

Last week, a Malaysian man won the landmark court challenge against an Islamic ban on same-sex.

Some are saying this raises hopes for greater acceptance of gay rights in the mostly Muslim country.

Others are saying the court order disallows the local Islamic police the right to arrest people on suspicion.

They cannot carry out raids after getting tips from the public.

The Muslim man in his 30’s was arrested in Selangor in 2018 for attempting gay sex.

He launched a legal challenge arguing the state had no power to enforce the Islamic ban. He also denies he was attempting to have gay sex.

In his challenge, he argues gay sex was already a crime under civil laws and the state had no right to enforce a ban under Islamic laws.

As such, the Federal Court held that a Selangor shariah law provision that can jail people for engaging in unnatural sex is invalid.

It says the state legislature has no power to enact such laws. Nevertheless, same-sex acts are illegal in Malaysia, although convictions are rare.

HIGH PROFILE CASE

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is one of the high-profile figures accused of same-sex in Malaysia.

However, he was subsequently granted a pardon by the king of Malaysia in 2018. 

Anwar was arrested and beaten, jailed and brought to court with a black eye. The case against Anwar in 1998 was called a political ploy by many, including foreign dignitaries.

He denies all involvement in gay sex and claims the sex charges and convictions were politically motivated. He is regarded as a high profile personality in the Islamic world.

The Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association (PGSM) in a statement last week says the court’s decision has significant implications for shariah law in the country, especially on matters relating to the State Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment.

Its president, Musa Awang, says the decision would open the floodgates to other parties coming forward to challenge the provisions under the Enactment.

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