The leader of the opposition party in Malaysia has called the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which hit neighbouring country Indonesia a “punishment from Allah” for LGBT+ relations. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed over 2,000 people on September 28. It is feared that up to 5,000 people are buried beneath the rubble the earthquake left in the town of Palu on Sulawesi.
Ahmed Zahid Hamidi is the head of a political party which was defeated in Malaysia’s general elections in May of this year. Speaking about the recent Indonesian disaster, the Malaysian politician said:
“In Palu, where there was recently an earthquake and tsunami, it was said there were more than 1,000 people involved in (LGBT+) activities.”
Ahmed Zahid Hamidi is now facing possible jail-time following a $26 million corruption case. The politician was found guilty of 45 cases of corruption, including accepting government bribes and money laundering.
Pang Khee Teik, a prominent LGBT+ activist in Malaysia criticised Ahmed Zahid Hamidi’s rhetoric, and linked his comments to the politician’s recent criminal demise:
“Next time you hear a politician say that LGBT people are causing a natural disaster, please remember that it’s because his career is about to be swallowed up by the earth.”
"Proof that every time a politician is in trouble, LGBT people get blamed. Next time you hear a politician say that LGBT people are causing natural disaster, please remember that it's because his career is about to be swallowed up by the earth," Pang said.https://t.co/xp2PWhIYyz
— Pang Khee Teik (@PangKheeTeik) October 23, 2018
The homophobic comments are indicative of the country’s restrictive laws regarding LGBT+ people. A British Empire colonial-law criminalises same-sex relations in the country. Gay sex may be punished by fines, corporal punishments and prison sentences of up to 20 years.
Last month, two Malaysian women were publicly caned six times each in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu after they were convicted for attempting to have sex in a car.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard of Amnesty International spoke released a statement about the caning and LGBT+ rights in Malaysia, generally:
“The caning of the two women is a dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalisation that LGBTI people face in this country. It’s a sign that the new government condones the use of measures that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, much like its predecessor.”
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