Bangkok, Feb 25 (efe-epa).- A Malaysian man arrested in 2018 for having sexual relations “against the order of nature” won Thursday the first legal battle against the homophobic Islamic regional laws used to persecute the LGBT community in the Muslim country.
The Malaysian LGTBQ+ network welcomed the ruling of the country’s highest court in the case of the man, prosecuted under Islamic laws in the state of Selangor.
In a unanimous decision, the judges declared that the Selangor legislature and authorities did not have the power to make or enact such a law since the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the national parliament.
Malaysia has a dual justice system in which Islamic courts rule on matters related to religion and Muslim families.
Some states have Islamic laws running alongside civil laws.
In more than half of the 14 states governed by Sharia or Islamic law, authorities impose punishments ranging from caning to jailing for same-sex relationships.
The court’s ruling essentially means the law is repealed.
The law entailed a maximum punishment of 5,000 ringgits (more than $1,200), three years in prison, six lashes, or a combination of the three.
Gay rights activists say the authorities use the law to persecute LGBT communities for their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We are extremely satisfied with the historic development. It marks a monumental progress for LGBT rights in Malaysia,” activist Numan Afifi said.
“We have worked hard for many years to live with dignity without fear of prosecution.”
Several Malaysian states continue to have laws that penalize same-sex relationships.
The man, who appealed against the law, was arrested in 2018 with 10 other people for having sex in an apartment.
Human rights groups have warned of rising intolerance and deteriorating rights situation for the LGBT community in Malaysia. EFE-EPA