Kuala Lumpur :
A Malaysian man has won a landmark court challenge against an Islamic ban on sex “against the order of nature”, raising hopes for greater acceptance of gay rights in the mostly Muslim country.
In a unanimous decision, Malaysia’s top court ruled on Thursday that the Islamic provision used against the man was unconstitutional and authorities had no power to enact the law.
“This is historic. This is monumental for LGBT+ rights in Malaysia,” said Numan Afifi, the founder of LGBT+ rights group Pelangi Campaign, which was not involved in the lawsuit.
The Muslim man in his 30s – whose name has been withheld by his lawyer to protect him – filed the lawsuit after he was arrested in the central Selangor state in 2018 for attempting gay sex, an allegation he denies.
Same-sex acts are illegal in Malaysia, although convictions are rare. The country, which has 13 states, has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside civil laws.
LGBT+ advocates say Islamic laws have been increasingly used to target the south-east Asian country’s gay community, with a rise in arrests and punishments ranging from caning to jailing.