Anwar Seeks Privacy Provision in Malaysia Gay Laws
Herald Tribune, November 11, 2004
From the Agence France-Presse
KUALA LUMPUR—Malaysia’s laws on
homosexuality need to be amended, says the former deputy prime minister Anwar
Ibrahim, whose conviction and nine-year jail sentence for sodomy were recently
overturned on appeal.
Anwar, who spent six years in prison on a separate charge
of abusing his position to cover up homosexual offenses, spoke out on what he
called a “sensitive” issue in an interview.
Anwar, a popular politician who was widely expected to be
Malaysia’s prime minister by now, maintained, as he has done since his
arrest in 1998, that the charges against him were trumped up to destroy his
But while insisting on his innocence and acknowledging
that most people in mainly Muslim Malaysia objected to homosexuality, he said
people’s privacy needed to be protected.
“In the general view, among Muslims and many
non-Muslims that I know, homosexuality is not accepted,” he said. “Fair
enough. But here the question is, how do you use the law and intrude on
people’s privacy and their own private choices?
“This is the borderline. I think public display may be
objectionable, but I think the laws need to be amended.
“The issue is the invasion of privacy, and we therefore
have to design and make sure the law does not involve the overzealous groups
trying to push their views or values outside the scope of the law.
“So I think while I endorse the general law against
homosexuality—I think it is against Islamic tenets and also the cultural
practice here by most Malaysians—I think we have to bear in mind that
invasion of privacy is something that we need to look at.”
Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is a member of
Parliament for the opposition National Justice Party set up to press Anwar’s
cause after he was fired as deputy by Mahathir bin Mohamad when Mahathir was
prime minister. She is the only party member to win a seat in March elections
in which opposition parties were defeated by the man who took Anwar’s place
as Mahathir’s successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Anwar has said he bears no grudge against Mahathir.
“I think why Mahathir may have had these charges
trumped up against me is because there is a general sentiment—and he is
right in the sense of a very general sentiment—against homosexual
practices,” Anwar said.
Anwar spoke vigorously about domestic and international
developments since his imprisonment. He criticized President George W. Bush
and his conduct of war but was again cautious when asked about the role played
by gay rights issues in the recent U.S. election.
Some commentators have attributed Bush’s re-election in
part to his opposition to marriage between homosexuals.
“Gay marriages are going a bit too far,” Anwar said.
“I’m a liberal in many ways but I think that is going a bit too far.”
[Home] [World] [Malaysia]