The Australian Greens have called on the federal government to raise concerns with the Malaysian government about the oppression and persecution of the country’s LGBTIQ community.
Earlier this month, two Malaysian women were fined and sentenced under the country’s sharia law to a caning in the country’s north for having sex with each other.
Recently, 20 men were also arrested during a raid on a gay venue and ordered into counselling for “illicit behaviour”, a transgender woman was brutally beaten on a Malaysian street and members of the Penang government ordered removal of photographs of LGBTIQ activists from a state-sponsored exhibition in a bid to stop “the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.”
Greens LBGTIQ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said Australia is a leader in the Asia Pacific region with strong trade links with Malaysia, and action was needed in light of the “chilling” state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTIQ people.
“Our government is in a powerful position to advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ people,” she said.
“I call on the federal government and the new Foreign Minister Marise Payne, to immediately call on the Malaysian government to stop this attack on LGBTIQ rights.
“Our government has the responsibility to use its considerable influence to end this horrific persecution of LGBTIQ people.”
The Sharia High Court in Terengganu announced this week they had postponed the womens’ punishment to September 3 due to “technical reasons”, according to local media.
At the time of the Malaysian women’s arrest, a group of local advocacy groups released a joint statement condemning the Malaysian women’s sentence as a violation of their human rights.
“We are also extremely concerned about the escalating attacks and repression against LGBTIQ persons in Malaysia, and the impact of such punishment in this environment,” they wrote.
“Such punishment will further fuel hatred, discrimination and violence towards LGBTIQ persons with impunity.”
Amnesty International Malaysia’s Interim Executive Director Gwen Lee said this month the women’s “deeply cruel” sentence was another severe setback in Malaysia’s treatment of LGBTI people.
“Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment amounting to torture and is prohibited under international law,” Lee said.
“As well as immediately overturning this brutal sentence, the Malaysian authorities must repeal the laws that impose these torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention against Torture.”
(Pictured: left, Greens Senator Janet Rice, right, a woman is caned in a province in neighbouring Indonesia)