In what’s being described as a bizarre claim, Malaysia’s tourism minister has confirmed to local media that homosexuality does not actually exist in the nation.
Datuk Mohammaddin bin Ketapi’s odd claims where made ahead of a travel trade show, and are in complete odds to the numerous reports of public caning of people for homosexuality in his country.
The minister was asked by journalists whether the country was welcoming to gay visitors, to which he replied, “I don’t think we have anything like that in our country.”
While the minister’s comments can obviously not be taken seriously, many believe that his comments could harm the country’s efforts to attract more tourists, and follows on from a statement also made by the Malaysian Prime Minister last year, that also perpetuates the myth that homosexuality is a western phenomenon.
“At this moment, we do not accept LGBT but if they (the West) want to accept, that is their business. Don’t force it on us,” the Prime Minister stated.
Homosexuality is punishable with penalties of up to 20 years in jail under Malaysia’s colonial-era penal system. Homosexuality is also an offence under state-based Sharia (Islamic moral/religious) laws.
According to LGBTI rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) the country’s Department of Islamic Development regularly organises camps and programmes to “educate gender-confused individuals,” with officials claiming that 3,000 LGBTI people have gone through these programmes to return them to “right path.”