Anwar says he shares Mahathir's views on gay marriage but sodomy laws need review

Anwar Ibrahim said Islam, and many other religions, do not sanction same-sex marriages.
Anwar Ibrahim said Islam, and many other religions, do not sanction same-sex marriages.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim says he shares Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's view that Malaysia does not accept LGBT culture or same-sex marriages, but reiterated that colonial-era sodomy laws can be abused and need review.

He claimed certain media organisations were out to create friction between him and Dr Mahathir over the issue, but clarified that both of them were on the same page about this.

Datuk Seri Anwar said several articles reported him as saying that sodomy laws must be reviewed, but others reported Dr Mahathir saying that he does not agree with the LGBT culture.

He said Islam, and many other religions, do not sanction same-sex marriages. "The sanctity of marriage is between a man and a woman. This is our understanding and that of many other religions.

"What I was saying is that the laws on sodomy are not fair, outdated, and need to be reviewed.

"These laws were brought in by the British to India during the times of colonisation, and Malaya at that time adopted these laws as well," he said when presenting his mandate to state PKR members here on Saturday (Sept 22).

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat president-elect had told Al Jazeera English's UpFront programme that the law on sodomy needs to be amended since it can be open to abuse, as someone can be accused without any proper evidence, such as in his own case.

Mr Anwar was released from prison in May after a royal pardon for a sodomy conviction that he maintains was politically motivated.

Section 377A of Malaysia's Penal Code person criminalises "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".

This means that oral and anal sex, even between straight people, and even if the partners mutually consented to the act, can be punished with jail up to 20 years, and even whipping.

Recently Dr Mahathir had said that Malaysia would not recognise LGBT culture and same-sex marriages in the country as it does not subscribe to "Western values".

He had said while the government respects recommendations made by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) on many human rights issues, some things are only meant for the West.