KUALA LUMPUR, June 24:
Political pressure may see the lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender (LGBT) community being faced with continued discrimination.
More so, after a sexual orientation and identity clause may be dropped in the proposed National Harmony Bill which prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of gender.
The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) deputy chairman Lim Chee Wee, who heads the council’s law and policy committee, said that this was due to immense political pressure from several political parties.
”As a matter of principle, most of us want it to be there.
“Why is LGBT considered a bad word?
“Some segments in the Malaysian society want to demonise the community,” Lim said during a press conference.
He stressed that NUCC strongly felt that the clause should be left in the Bill.
“It is a question of where you want to expressly include the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Gender itself can be defined to mean sexual orientation. So, either we drop this and allow the judges to decide, or we include it and let it be clear.”
Lim said even if the Bill was passed with the aforementioned specification removed from the clause, a judge could still extend the definition of gender to include sexual orientation. He also pointed out that Malaysia’s Penal Code does not criminalise the LGBT community. “… only the act of sodomy.You can be a member of the LGBT community but not commit 377A”. Under the Bill, clause 7(1)(ii) highlights that the government and all persons shall not unfairly discriminate against any person on the grounds of gender, including sexual orientation and identity. There are three other subsections under the clause; discrimination on grounds of pregnancy, denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration, or failing to take steps to reasonably accomodate the needs of such persons and systematic inequality of access to opportunities by a gender as a result of the sexual diversion of labour.
Also present during the press conference was NUCC committee member and Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) chairperson Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who expressed his hope of having a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) set up before the Bills are tabled for its first reading in the August House. “We are consulting with the people now. There will be amendments before the NUCC sends its report to the Prime Minister. So, it is up to the government,” the former Higher Education Deputy Minister said. In July 2010, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that Putrajaya would repeal the contentious Sedition Act 1948, and replace it with a novel National Harmony Act.
Najib said that the new Act would guarantee the right to freedom of speech while protecting national unity by preventing incitement of religious or ethnic hatred.
There are three new bills under the National Harmony Act, slated to replace the Sedition Act. They are the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill, Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill.