Call for Malaysia to keep sexuality and gender identity in new anti-discrimination bill

Published: July 22, 2014

Malaysian human rights groups Diversity and Penang Freedom to Love are asking their country’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) to stand firm via a new online petition campaign after it released a draft bill of a proposed new anti-discrimination law.

The current draft of National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill would prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexuality by the government or any person.

The NUCC has come under attack by social conservatives for including this anti-discrimination section and are being pressured to drop it from the Bill and the groups have organized the petition so that supporters of LGBTI equality can show their support for the NUCC retaining the current language.

The bill includes sexual orientation and gender identity in a section of the bill prohibiting gender discrimination.

The bill states that, ‘The Government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, including discrimination on ground of pregnancy; sexual orientation and identity; the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration, or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons; [and] systemic inequality of access to opportunities by a gender as a result of the sexual division of labor.’

If the bill passes into law sex between men in Malaysia would still remain a crime with penalties of up to 20 years, while Muslims who engage in gay sex can face corporal punishment by Islamic courts.

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