Malaysia no place for LGBT rights, religious freedom, says Islamist group

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Malaysia has no room for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights or religious freedom, Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) said today as it lobbied Putrajaya to ignore the proposals put forth by a local human rights activist coalition in Geneva recently.

Isma deputy president Aminuddin Yahya said the government must reject the contents of a report presented by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) at the United Nation’s (UN) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) late last month.

Aminuddin called Comango’s recommendations an affront to the religious sanctity and the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution for insisting on religious freedom and LGBT rights and also on the right of a Muslim to be an apostate and pressing for the removal of Malay privileges.

“Isma takes a firm position that the government must be careful and not negotiate with such unreasonable demands by Comango,” he said in a statement published in the group’s website.

In a previous seminar, Isma had also claimed that Comango was attempting to spread “liberalism teachings” backed by Western powers.

Isma’s remarks today come on the heels of various Muslim voices that have been critical of Comango.

A coalition of Muslim non-government organisations that call themselves MuslimUPRo labelled Comango an illegitimate group that was ran on foreign funds.

Barisan Nasional’s Tenom MP Raime Unggi also called on Registrar of Societies and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to probe NGOs signed on under Comango over their demands which allegedly contradict Islam’s teachings.

Comango, which counts Sisters in Islam, the Women’s Aid Organisation, the Malaysian Bar and Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia among its 54 signatories, countered that their report was merely an effort to encourage Malaysia to prove its commitment towards improving the lot of all Malaysians via the UPR.

Aminuddin, however, said that Isma, which is a member of MuslimUPRo, does not buy Comango’s explanation and insisted that the latter’s recommendations were unacceptable.

He said Isma is now planning a roadshow to reveal to the public the “Western plans” and Comango’s alleged role in disrupting national peace.

“Isma calls on all who love their religion and race and national sovereignty to join us in evaluating these recommendations,” Aminuddin said.

Held every four and a half years, the UPR is a UNHRC mechanism that was established in 2007 to improve the treatment of human rights in all 193 UN member states. Malaysia is currently a member of UNHRC, the second time after a term in 2009.

The process involves a three-hour interactive dialogue, where UNHRC members will question Malaysia based on reports prepared by the government, UN agencies, and the stakeholders’ report ― which summarises the report of NGOs both national and international.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, NGOs will have the opportunity to make statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when the outcome of the state reviews are considered.