A government task force in Malaysia has tabled terrifying amendments to Sharia law that would stop people from “promoting the LGBT lifestyle” on social media.
Gay sex is already illegal in Malaysia under a colonial era ban, and LGBT+ people routinely face discrimination – but proposed changes to Islamic law could make the country an even more oppressive place for queer residents, Reuters reports.
Ahmad Marzuk, deputy minister for religious affairs, said the task force was asked to consider new, stricter laws after social media was flooded with celebratory posts for Pride Month.
If the task force’s recommendations are implemented, people who “promote” LGBT+ lifestyles on social media and those who “insult” Islam online could face punishment under Sharia law.
“We have found that certain parties uploaded statuses and graphics that insulted Islam on social media in their efforts to promote the LGBT lifestyle,” Marzuk said in a statement.
Malaysia moves to punish those who ‘insult the religion of Islam’ online
He said the proposed legal change would allow authorities to take action against Muslims who “insult the religion of Islam” and those who commit criminal offences “by using network facilities, network services or application services”.
The task force was specifically set up to examine LGBT+ issues. It will also look at constraints authorities might face in punishing members of the community who step outside the law and will come up with a set of guidelines for how complaints should be handled, Marzuk added.
The move comes amidst a wider crackdown on LGBT+ rights and freedoms in Malaysia in recent months.
In January, the country came under fire from International human rights groups when it emerged that it was considering imposing tougher penalties for those convicted of having gay sex.
In April, it was revealed that the Malaysian government was planning to amend Sharia law to make life for LGBT+ people in the country even harsher by increasing the maximum sentence for anal or oral sex.
Speaking at the time, Marzuk claimed LGBT+ people were “violating the norms” of human behaviour, adding: “We cannot accept such practices. We just need to manage the issue with wisdom, inviting and educating them to return to the right path.”