Malaysia must not ‘bow down’ to pressure on LGBTI rights, says PM-in-waiting

Anwar Ibrahim

A leading Malaysian politician slated to become the country’s next Prime Minister said on Wednesday (15 May) the country should not bow down to international pressure over LGBT issues.

Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia must be ‘fiercely independent [and] decide what is best for our country’ amid a crackdown on its LGBTI population.

The leader of Malaysia’s ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan was sent to jail under Malaysia’s colonial-era sodomy laws in 1999.

He was responding to actor George Clooney’s remarks about Malaysia and Indonesia after he led a boycott of Brunei over its law punishing gay sex with death by stoning.

Clooney said the other two Muslim-majority countries were also considering ’these laws’.

‘It sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia – who are also considering these laws – that the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to say “don’t even get into that business”.’

Although Malaysia criminalizes gay sex with between five and 20 years in prison under its Penal Code, it is not planning to implement nationwide Sharia Law.

Malaysian LGBTI activist Numan Afifi said Clooney’s comments ‘might be counterproductive’.

Muslim-majority Malaysia is becoming increasingly hostile to its LGBTI population.

In September, the prime minister said the country could not accept LGBTI rights. The tourism minister there are no homosexuals in the country.

Bow down

‘We have to realize that we have our own system and leadership that is free to protect the interest of the country and its people’ Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday, according to the Star.

‘They can give suggestions, but we should not bow down to pressure’.

‘We must always stand up for the country and not feel pressured by external reactions,’ he said.

Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister also responded to Clooney’s comments. He said Malaysia opposed LGBT as it went against Islam but said it did not kill sexual minorities.

The small Southeast Asian nation of Brunei announced last month it would institute stoning to death as a penalty for gay sex under new sharia laws.

The country’s all-powerful Sultan later said it would not be enforced after global condemnation and boycott of his businesses.

Muslim-majority Malaysia is becoming increasingly hostile to its LGBTI population.

In September, the prime minister said the country could not accept LGBTI rights. The tourism minister there are no homosexuals in the country.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post Malaysia must not ‘bow down’ to pressure on LGBTI rights, says PM-in-waiting appeared first on Gay Star News.

George Clooney critisized for Brunei ‘warning shot’ remarks

George Clooney speaking to Barack Obama

George Clooney came under fire from LGBTI advocates on Friday (10 May) after he called a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels a ‘warning shot’ for countries with similar laws.

In late March, Clooney called for a boycott of nine hotels owned by Brunei after the small Southeast Asian country imposed the death penalty on LGBTI people.

But comments the Ocean’s Eleven made on the US talk show Ellen proved problematic to some LGBTI people, Huffington Post reported.

What did Clooney say?

Pressure mounted for weeks after the Sultan of Brunei announced he would roll out a severe interpretation of Shariah law onto his citizens. This included, but certainly not limited to, stoning gay people.

But the Sultan announced his government would not enforce the death penalty. LGBTI activists and allies wholly welcomed the U-turn.

Clooney discussed the economic activism people used to pressure the Sultan, mainly boycotting the Sultan’s plump business portfolio.

‘It’s not fixed yet … but it’s a huge step forward after this giant leap backwards,’ he told Ellen DeGeneres.

‘It sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, who are also considering these laws, that the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to see: “Don’t even get into that business.”‘

How did people react?

Not too well. Some LGBTI organizations pointed out that major differences between Brunei and its neighbors.

‘I call on George Clooney and Hollywood to listen and work together with local activists and human rights defenders on the ground,’ Numan Afifi, president of the LGBTI advocacy PELANGI Campaign in Malaysia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

‘Local activists have been putting their lives at risk on the ground working, for years,’ Afifi said. ‘His statement, while well-meaning, might also be counterproductive for our case.’

Dede Oetomo, one of Indonesia’s prominent activists and founder of LGBTI rights group GAYa NUSANTARA, also questioned Clooney’s comments.

‘Malaysia and Indonesia are larger entities and have some democratic processes that although not perfect, they work,’ Oetomo said.

‘Pressure from within is more possible in both countries, though it is frustratingly slow and protracted.’

So, will the U-turn prove effective?

The Sultan of Brunei’s governmental bloc has been internationally denounced by not only fellow government administrations, but businesses, celebrities, and LGBTI advocates, too.

Brunei itself – a tiny, oil-rich patch of the island of Berneo – has only 430,000 people living there.

Yet, this in no way stopped the immense condemnation of their government.

The boycotts and protests worked, to a degree, at least. The Sultan announced his administration would not enforce the death penalty; the laws, however, were not repealed.

Some LGBTI Bruneian groups felt the Sultan’s moratorium was paying lip service to his international critics. Whipping and imprisonment are still very real threats for the country’s queer populous.

See also

Influential gay model visits Brunei and says he has no safety concerns

‘Looking over each other’s shoulders’: Living as a gay man in Brunei

Brunei’s U-turn ‘changes very little’ warns rights group

Author: Josh Milton

The post George Clooney critisized for Brunei ‘warning shot’ remarks appeared first on Gay Star News.

George Clooney and Ellen Celebrate Brunei Backtracking on Death Penalty for Gay Sex: ‘It’s Not Fixed Yet, But…’ — WATCH

George Clooney spoke with Ellen DeGeneres about his call for a boycott on the Dorchester Hotel group and other businesses that do business with Brunei, which recently backtracked on a death by stoning penalty for gay sex.

“That doesn’t matter so much to a rich guy,” said Clooney of the boycotts. “You can’t shame bad people. But you can shame the people who do business with them. But when the banks and when the financial institutions started saying ‘we’re out of the Brunei business’ then [the Sultan of Brunei] backed off. And said put a moratorium on it. It’s not fixed yet but it’s a huge step forward after this giant leap backward.”

“The reason for this is this is something that is manageable,” Clooney added. “It sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia who are also considering these laws. That the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to say don’t need to get into that business. That’s the reason to do it.”

The post George Clooney and Ellen Celebrate Brunei Backtracking on Death Penalty for Gay Sex: ‘It’s Not Fixed Yet, But…’ — WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.