BY NOREEN FAGAN – Human rights be damned is the message from Malaysia.

Two states in the country are making moves to change their laws to further punish Muslims who engage in homosexual behaviour.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Malaysia and punishable by caning and up to 20 years in prison. But Associated Press reports that the new amendments proposed by the Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give those states’ governments additional powers.

What this means is that if you are a gay Muslim living in Malaysia, you could be punished twice: state and federal jail terms would run consecutively.

Mohd Ali Rustam, Malacca’s chief minister, said that under the new laws, Muslim gays and lesbians would be tried in court and punished by a prison sentence or fine.

“So many people like to promote human rights, even up to the point they want to allow lesbian activities and homosexuality. In Islam, we cannot do all this. It is against Islamic law,” Rustam said, adding that gay Muslims would also be required to receive counselling.

Rustam said the proposed penalties would also apply to any supporters of homosexuality.

In Pahang, cleric leader Abdul Rahman Osman echoed Rustam’s sentiments, saying that Islam prohibits any “deviant sexual orientation or behaviour” and that he feared this “abnormal behaviour will be regarded as a norm.”

The states do not need approval from the federal government to effect the changes, as religion falls under state control.

The anti-gay sentiment seems to be spreading: last week an annual sexuality festival held in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, was cancelled after police threatened to crack down on it.

Human rights violations seem to be spreading like wildfire in the country, and I am not looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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