(Bangkok, February 12, 2014) – The Malaysian government should drop its politically motivated prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for alleged consensual homosexual relations, Human Rights Watch said today.
On February 12, 2014, the Kuala Lumpur Court of Appeal is slated to hear the government’s appeal of the High Court’s January 9, 2012 decision to acquit Anwar of violating article 377 of the Malaysian penal code.
“Malaysia’s authorities are opening themselves up to international ridicule for prolonging their political case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Anwar’s trial would be farcical were the penalties not so severe and the trial’s message to Malaysia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender [LGBT] community not so grave.”
Malaysia should repeal article 377 of its penal code, which is an anachronistic colonial era law that criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” Human Rights Watch said. The law effectively criminalizes same-sex sexuality, and does not distinguish between consensual and non-consensual sex, in defiance of international human rights standards. In its place, Human Rights Watch has long recommended the passage of a modern, gender-neutral rape law.
Anwar was first arrested in July 2008, a month after the alleged incident took place. After a long series of delays, he was found not guilty in January 2012 after the judge found that crucial DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution may have been compromised.
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