LGBTIQ advocates have called on the Australian government to issue a travel warning for Malaysia after authorities entrapped and convicted a pair of gay tourists.
Gay Vietnamese couple Tang Van Duc and Lee Vu Linh travelled to Malaysia on tourist visas in late October.
However on November 12, police arrested and charged them with an “immoral act” with an undercover agent in their hotel room in George Town, the capital of the island of Penang.
The men pleaded guilty to the charges against them, according to the New Straits Times.
A judge ordered the two men pay a fine of RM1000 (around $AU350).
Australian group just.equal said the Department of Foreign Affairs should immediately issue a travel warning for Malaysia following the convictions.
“It is the Australian Government’s duty to warn LGBTIQ Australians when their safety may be endangered by the repressive policies of a foreign country,” spokesperson Brian Grieg said.
“The entrapment and conviction of a Vietnamese gay couple in Malaysia shows that country is not a safe place for LGBTIQ travellers.”
On the Smartraveller website, the current advisory reads “Exercise normal safety precautions in Malaysia overall”.
Under local laws, the website warns, “Same-sex relations are illegal for both men and women. Punishment can include whipping and up to 20 years in jail.”
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokesperson told QNews.com.au: “The travel advice for Malaysia includes a clear reference to laws regarding same-sex relations under the section on local laws.
“All our travel advisories are kept under close review and updated regularly. We take the issues of Australian travellers, including those from the LGBTI community, very seriously, as evidenced by a standalone page providing tailored advice to LGBTI travellers.
“We encourage all Australians travelling overseas to read the travel advisories for their destinations before they go and subscribe for updates.”
‘Growing intolerance’ to LGBTIQ people in Asia-Pacific
Human rights groups have warned Malaysia has cracked down on homosexuality in the past few years.
Just.equal’s Brian Grieg said reports claiming authorities orchestrated a sting operation to entrap the gay couple are “particularly concerning.”
“LGBTIQ travellers planning a visit to Malaysia should be warned to reconsider their travel plans,” he said.
“Because Malaysia is a growing hub of international commerce and tourism this case should be of concern to governments around the world.
“This incident is an example of growing intolerance towards LGBTIQ people in the Asia-Pacific.
“[The] Australian Government must have a stronger, long-term response.”
Last week, four Malaysian men found guilty of “intercourse against the order of nature” in a private residence were caned by authorities.
Authorities reportedly discovered the private event by monitoring messages between the men.
They then sent a team of 50 officers to raid the apartment and detain them, according to Amnesty International.
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