Malaysia’s Top Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Sex Law In Landmark Ruling




A Malaysian man on Thursday won a landmark court challenge against an Islamic ban on sex “against the order of nature,” Reuters reports.

The unidentified plaintiff, a Muslim man in his 30s, was arrested in 2018 during a raid on a private home, Reuters said. He was one of 11 people to be detained on a charge of seeking sex “against the order of nature” under an Islamic law in Selangor, one of Malaysia’s 13 states.

Channel News Asia reports that five of those arrested during the raid pled guilty and received sentences that included caning, fines, and months-long jail sentences.

The plaintiff who brought the suit contended he was innocent, but the court’s finding didn’t just exonerate him of the specific charge – it led to the law being overturned, with the court finding it to be unconstitutional.



“Same-sex acts are illegal in Malaysia, although convictions are rare. The country, which has 13 states, has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside civil laws,” Reuters reports. “LGBT+ advocates say Islamic laws have been increasingly used to target the Southeast Asian country’s gay community, with a rise in arrests and punishments ranging from caning to jailing.”

“Despite the ruling, gay Malaysian men still face up to 20 years in jail under a British colonial-era law that bans gay sex, known as Section 377,” Reuters noted.

The founder of the LGBTQ rights group founder Pelangi Campaign, Numan Afifi, called the ruling “monumental,” and added, “We want to live in dignity without fear of prosecution. Of course Section 377 is still there — it’s not the end, but this is a beginning.”

It was the existence of the nation’s civil law against same-gender sexual contact upon which the court’s ruling was predicated. The national law made the state law unnecessary and, the court ruled, such state laws are “subject to a constitutional limit”.