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Malaysian man wins landmark challenge against Muslim gay sex ban

The Federal Court of Malaysia has ruled unconstitutional a Malaysian state’s shariah law banning consensual same-sex conduct. But the nation as a whole retains its own anti-homosexuality law.


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Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, Malaysia, where the Federal Court of Malaysia is located. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gryffindor)

Malaysia: Federal Court finds state Shariah law criminalising same-sex intercourse unconstitutional

The Federal Court of Malaysia has ruled that the state of Selangor has no  power to uphold a shariah law that declares it an offence to engage in same-sex intercourse.

This decision came as a response to an applicant seeking to block Section 28 of Selangor’s Shariah criminal law

As Human Rights Watch reports, the case arises from a 2018 raid on a private residence in Selangor, in which state religious enforcement officials arrested 11 men on charges of “attempting” to have sex. In November 2019, a court convicted five of them and sentenced them to fines, imprisonment, and six strokes of the cane each.

One of the men appealed the decision, and filed two separate challenges in civil courts to ultimately challenge the validity and constitutionality of the Section 28 provision that was used to charge him.

According to Neela Ghoshal, associate director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, “the ruling leaves intact a federal statute criminalizing same-sex relations”, but “it does bring relief to those who have faced persecution from religious enforcement agencies enforcing such state laws”.

Thanks to ILGA for that (edited) excerpt from its LGBulleTin news briefs.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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