Social Issues

Asia: negatives outshine positives for LGTBI in continent of contrasts

Singapore, Jun 24 (EFE).- The situation for the LGTBI group in Asia ranges from full freedom and recognition of rights in places such as Taiwan to the renewed harassment they face in Afghanistan from the Taliban, with backward steps in general in the continent.

Taiwan and Afghanistan represent the extremes of the different realities LGTBI people live in Asia, where there are many grays, some progress, and also dangerous setbacks such as that of Indonesia, a country increasingly hostile due toIslamist factions.

In Afghanistan, the LGTBI community is directly invisible and no one will celebrate Pride Day on Tuesday. If the previous pro-Western government already considered homosexuality a “moral crime,” the situation has only worsened with the Taliban’s Aug. 15 arrival to power.

Abul Yousuf, the Kabul court spokesman, told EFE that the authorities are trying to educate the population so they avoid same-sex relations and will receive a “severe punishment” if caught after a Taliban magistrate even suggested stoning.

Afghanistan is not the only country in Asia where the LGBTI community faces the most absolute persecution and discrimination. In Brunei, governed by Islamic Sharia law, a 2019 regulation allows the death penalty to be imposed on men who practice homosexual sex.

Although Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced it would not be applied following global protests, the small sultanate remains one of the most hostile places in the world toward homosexuals. This rejection is, to a lesser degree, also felt in neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia, with which Brunei shares the island of Borneo.

One of the most recent examples of intolerance toward the collective in Indonesia, the country with the most Muslims in the world, has been its refusal to broadcast the Disney-Pixar film “Lightyear” if it does not remove the scene of a lesbian. Authorities there consider the kiss between two women a “delicate” matter, censor authorities told EFE.

The influence of Islamist factions in Indonesian politics led to a debate on the reform of the penal code to prosecute certain “exhibitions” of homosexual conduct. Until now, Indonesian law does not criminalize homosexuality as long as it is not exhibited in public.

Malaysia, with Brunei, the Southeast Asian nation that is least open toward the LGTBI community, has also not given its approval to the broadcast of the Disney animated film in the country, which has a double judicial system that is especially punitive for the group.

On the one hand, the one governed by the Islamic courts for Muslims (more than 60 percent of the total), and, on the other, the civil one, with section 377 of the Penal Code for the entire population, inherited from the British colonial period and which punishes homosexual sex with sentences of up to 20 years in prison. EFE


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