PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has called for tougher laws in Asean countries to act against hate speech, including harassments over one’s sexual orientation.
This comes just a couple of days after it was reported that Putrajaya was mulling harsher laws under the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 to provide for heavier punishments against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).
Speaking at the 1st Asean Digital Ministers’ Meeting, Muhyiddin said Asean countries could consider enacting stronger laws against hate speech, compelling online platforms to remove such posts.
He added that some form of punishment could also be carried out for any speech that promotes violence or attacks, whether physical or verbal.
“Including, but not limited to, harassments and threats against a person or persons based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or nationality,” he said in his keynote address today.
On Tuesday, deputy minister in the prime minister’s department (religious affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said the current sentence under Act 355 was not effective.
He added that the amendment to the Act should be seen as necessary to address their (LGBT) “wrongdoings”.
Currently, the Act provides for a three-year imprisonment, a fine of RM5,000 and six strokes of the cane.
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty responded to the deputy minister’s comment, saying the government should stop using the LGBT community as a “convenient punching bag”.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia also called it a “new low” for the government and urged Putrajaya to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic instead. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia also expressed alarm over the matter.