Last edited: March 29, 2004

United Nations Ill-Advised on Homosexual Laws

New Straits Times, February 8, 2004
Balai Berita 31, Jalan Riong, 59100 Bangsar, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Fax: 6-03-2282-1434

By Hamidah Atan

SEREMBAN—The United Nations has been ill-advised when it threatened to punish nations which banned homosexual activities through a new human rights resolution to be tabled in April.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim called on the UN not to deprive developing and Islamic nations of their basic laws and rights.

“The municipal or domestic laws of a nation should not be dictated by the UN’s mechanism of laws, unless the former wants to comply,” he said.

Rais said the resolution, if approved, could be interpreted as UN intervening in a nation’s sovereignty.

“We will have to see first how the contents of the resolution are written,” he said.

“We will also have to see how many countries will subscribe to it. There are countries, including Malaysia, that do not recognise sexual relations between males and such a law is sovereign and basic to us.”

Director of a San Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Paula Ettelbrick, was quoted as saying that the resolution, to be tabled between April 15 and 25 in Geneva, would link all forms of human rights, covering sexual orientation choices for a person.

Last year, Pakistan issued a memorandum stating that the resolution was against the teachings of Islam as well as other religions. The memorandum also stated that if the resolution was approved, it would indirectly humiliate Islam and 1.2 billion Islamic followers all over the world.

On the campaign to curb sexual crimes and abuse against children, Rais said the Government would amend the laws to protect children’s rights and safety as and when the need arose.

Apart from on-going efforts to introduce harsher punishment for child rapists, the Government would also amend laws relating to sodomy where the victims were children.

The Government would also consider amending provisions on unnatural offences under Section 377 of the Penal Code if more sodomy cases or unnatural sex practices whose victims were children occurred.

“For now, however, there is no necessity to amend the section,” he said. “The law on sodomy as stipulated in the Penal Code is adequate. It provides harsh punishment for offenders convicted of committing unnatural sexual practices.

“However, if frequency of cases develops over time, where the victims are mainly children, the Government will not sit still ... just like what we are doing now against child rapists.” So far, Rais said his ministry had not received representations for a review of the laws.

He was asked to comment on a case in Rantau near here where an 11-year-old schoolboy was allegedly sodomised by a 40-year-old man on Friday, who has since been arrested.

Under Section 377c of the Penal Code, those convicted of such crimes are jailed for not less than five years and not more than 20 years. Offenders are also liable to whipping.

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