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Anwar under fire for suggesting review of gay laws

Days after being acquitted of a sodomy charge, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim continued to come under fire from his detractors, this time for appearing to support gay rights.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

18th January 2012 17:14

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

Pro-government newspapers slammed Mr Anwar on Sunday for suggesting that Malaysia’s strict laws on sodomy and oral sex be reviewed, saying this could lead to apostasy. But this in turn drew criticism from opposition politicians, who accused the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of trying to discredit Mr Anwar. The Pakatan Rakyat leader’s acquittal allows him to take part in the next general election, expected to be held soon.

The latest exchange came after an interview with BBC in Mumbai, in which Mr Anwar said Malaysia needed to review ‘some archaic laws’ which were ‘punitive and not relevant’. ‘We do not promote homosexuality in a public domain. I don’t think we need to make apologies for that. But using these laws to be punitive, punishing innocents, cannot be condoned or tolerated.’

Sodomy and oral sex – whether between same-sex partners or otherwise – are prohibited and punishable with up to 20 years’ jail and caning. Muslims can also be punished under Islamic laws for homosexuality.