Malaysia’s National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill 2014, which is in a draft stage, is facing a backlash from politicians opposed to outlawing discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, said attorney Lim Chee Wee.
As a result, the bill’s drafters are considering whether to drop that language from the bill entirely.
Lim, who is the deputy chair of the National Unity Consultative Council’s working committee on law and policy, said several politicians have protested against the clause, which would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender.
As written, the draft states in Clause 7(1)(ii) that the government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the grounds of gender, including sexual orientation and identity.
“A few political parties are objecting to this, so there is uncertainty (whether it will be included in the final draft),” said Lim, who is the former president of the Malaysian Bar.
But in comments quoted by MSN News, Lim suggested that a prohibition against bias toward LGBTI people might still end up as the law of the land, even if that wording is dropped:
“[Lim] added that should the Bill be passed with the subsection removed, a judge could still extend the definition of gender as mentioned in Clause 7 to encompass sexual orientation.
” ‘It’s a question of where you want to expressly include (the prohibition of) discrimination based on sexual orientation.
” ‘Gender itself can be defined to mean sexual orientation. Either we drop this and allow the judges to decide, or we include it and let it be clear,’ said Lim.
“But he questioned why the Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders (LGBT) community was stigmatised in Malaysian society, noting that it was not a criminal offence to be one.
” ‘Our criminal code doesn’t criminalise LGBTs, but only the act of sodomy – a type of sexual activity,’ said Lim, referring to Section 377A of the Penal Code. ‘You can be a member of the LGBT community but not commit 377A.’ “
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