Malaysia never supported UN declarations protecting LGBT, claims activist

Loghun Kumaran
Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar speaks during the 'Wacana Kesejagatan Ummah' discourse in Ipoh September 6, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Sept 6 — Malaysia has never signed United Nations (UN) declarations that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a conservative Muslim rights activist said today.

Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar, who is president of the anti-LGBT WAFIQ women’s group, claimed that UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which Malaysia signed, did not specify sexual orientation or gender identity as a characteristic protected from discrimination.

However, Article 2 of the UDHR clearly states that everyone is entitled to human rights regardless of their “sex”, race, or religion, among other traits.

“People say that we have signed the declarations and we must follow everything in it. The only thing we signed was the 1948 declaration,” Dr Rafidah said during a “Wacana Kesejagatan Ummah” discourse at the Ipoh Town Hall here today.

“We always opposed the subsequent declarations which called for additional rights. We didn’t agree to them because they must deal with our cultural sensitivities and our own domestic law,” added the head of the academy of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) study at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s World Fatwa Management and Research Institute.

Dr Rafidah said that in 2011, a resolution was passed by UN’s Human Rights Council against violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which she claimed was the first resolution touching on sexual orientation and gender.

She said 23 countries supported the resolution while 19 countries were against it — including Malaysia. Three countries abstained from the vote.

“And in 2016, the UN adopted a resolution to mandate the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity,” Dr Rafidah said.

“Some of the things in the resolution were not a problem, like protecting individuals against violence from homophobia and transphobia. 

“But the resolution also urged UN members to abolish criminal laws related to homosexuality and transgenders. It also called on members to guarantee the LGBT community’s freedom of expression and association.”

Despite this, Dr Rafidah said the LGBT community still had unalienable rights.

She said the LGBT community should not be victims of violence or denied access to healthcare, adding that they also deserved job opportunities — with the condition that they follow the necessary dress codes.

“But to me, even if we say they should not be discriminated against, this must be done in accordance with the law,” she told reporters after her speech.

“If they enter a ladies’ bathroom, I will oppose that. We don’t know who is an actual transgender person or an impostor. We need to also think if the ladies in the toilet are comfortable with this.”

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