LETTERS: THE Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (Macsa) in the Universal Periodic Review Process denounces the statement by the European Union (EU) spokesman on Nov 11, in response to the sentencing of five Muslim men in the Syariah High Court of Selangor for engaging in unnatural same sex conduct.
Such a statement runs afoul of the moral and religious values that Malaysia holds dear as an Asian nation having regard to Islam’s position as the religion of the federation per Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, and the syariah institutions that administer Islamic law, which is accepted as lex loci (law) of this land.
The statement is also misleading and misconceived in that it purports to affirm specific human rights for LGBTQ persons under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), when the UDHR makes no mention of unnatural same sex relations as a protected right.
Macsa wishes to remind the EU that the five men so sentenced were men of the Muslim faith and thus are governed by syariah law enumerated in our constitution.
The sentencing involving caning meted out under syariah laws can in no way be described as a cruel, inhumane and degrading practice or a form of torture since Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture states that torture excludes any lawfully sanctioned punishment in response to a commission of any crime, in this case, unnatural same sex conduct committed by the said five Muslim men.
Thus the imposition of caning is in no way a breach of their rights and it is highly misleading to assert the same as torture.
Macsa wishes to reiterate that Article 7 of the Asean Human Rights Declaration states that while human rights are universal and indivisible, their realisation must be considered in the regional and national context, bearing in mind different legal, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds, among others.
It is in accordance with this that Malaysia has never accepted or affirmed any international human rights instrument that permits the free practice of unnatural same sex acts such as the controversial and widely discredited 2006 Yogyakarta Principles but has rather chosen to adopt the 2016 Yogyakarta Declaration on Human Dignity.
Article 1 of this 2016 Declaration affirms that human beings, while equal in dignity and rights affirm their derivation from God, are subject to obligations and responsibilities to God as well as to other fellow human beings.
Article 2 then follows by affirming that values derived from God and preservation of the family in its natural sense is the basis for human dignity and thus human rights.
It is a known fact that unnatural gay sex leads to endangerment of the life of the person and those around him. Studies have shown that the HIV prevalence has almost tripled in men who have sex with men within three years (from 8.9 per cent in 2014 to 21.6 per cent in 2017) in Malaysia that it warrants a holistic approach to curb the HIV infection through religious emphasis of prevention.
Furthermore, there are concerns on the surge of “chemsex” parties. This is where people spend days getting high on drugs and having sex with scores of partners. The Reuters news agency had also reported that this sort of gay parties, similar to the current case in Malaysia, had refuelled epidemics of HIV among gay men in European towns and cities.
The sentencing by the Selangor High Court of the five Muslim men accords with human rights practice that is accepted and affirmed within Malaysia, having regard to its values and context as allowed and encouraged by the aforesaid international human rights instruments.
Macsa accordingly finds the call by the EU misleading and misconceived. EU cannot interpret international law and conventions as it deems fit in order to impose its own social value on our sovereign country. EU must withdraw its call of Nov 11.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR RAFIDAH HANIM MOKHTAR
PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S ALLIANCE FOR FAMILY INSTITUTION AND QUALITY EDUCATION; CO-CHAIRMAN, MALAYSIAN ALLIANCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times