Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people live in increasingly punitive conditions in Malaysia. Consensual same-sex conduct and acts are considered a crime in Malaysia, according to sections 377A and 377B that prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with a penalty of up to twenty years imprisonment and whipping. This is exacerbated by Sharia law within the country.
Same-sex unions and marriages are banned in Malaysia; transgender people do not have legal recognition; in fact, under Sharia laws, a number of Malaysian states criminalise tasyabbuh (a man “posing” as a woman and vice versa).
There is also no framework to protect intersex people’s rights.
The last State party report was submitted in 2022 and marginally mentioned LBTI people. It stated that Malaysia maintains the principle of gender equality and non-discrimination against women as articulated in the Federal Constitution and as reported in the previous periodic reports, and this includes lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex people.
The List of Issues from February 2022 asks the state party what measures have been taken to eliminate discrimination and negative stereotypes against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons in the past 5 years.
Malaysia received several SOGIESC-specific recommendations from the CEDAW Committee at the 68th Session. The Committee urged the State party to adopt anti-bullying policies, strategies, counselling, and awareness-raising to foster equal rights for LBTI students who face prejudice and stigma.
They also suggested removing all barriers to healthcare for transgender women, amongst others. Specifically for LBTI human rights defenders, the Committee asked Malaysia to institute mechanisms so that they can undertake their work, without fear or threat of violence.
Lastly and most importantly, the Committee asked Malaysia to exercise substantive equality by amending all laws so that they are inclusive of LBTI people, and to address the violence and discrimination they face by discontinuing all policies that are aimed at “correcting” or rehabilitating them.