Malaysia seeks stricter sharia laws for 'promoting LGBT lifestyle'

Members of Muslim rights groups protest against the 2011 Seksualiti Merdeka festival, an annual celebration of sexual diversity and gender rights held in Malaysia.

A Malaysian government task force on Friday proposed amendments to sharia law that would allow action to be taken against social media users for insulting Islam and "promoting the LGBT lifestyle."

Sodomy and same-sex acts are illegal under Islamic law in Muslim-majority Malaysia, although convictions are rare.
The amendments to sharia criminal laws were proposed in response to social media posts celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as part of Pride Month in June, said Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, deputy minister in charge of religious affairs, in a statement.
    "We have found that certain parties uploaded statuses and graphics that insulted Islam on social media in their efforts to promote the LGBT lifestyle," he said
      Malaysia is home to 32 million people, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up more than 60% of the population.
        It has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside civil laws.
        Ahmad Marzuk said the proposed laws would allow enforcement bodies to take action against any Muslim "who insults the religion of Islam" and commits other sharia criminal offenses "by using network facilities, network services or application services."
          The government task force, aimed at addressing LGBT issues, will also identify constraints faced by officials in taking action and produce guidelines for handling complaints, he added.
          The task force includes representatives from the country's Islamic Development Department, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry, the Attorney-General's Office and the police.
          The proposal comes amid concern over growing intolerance toward the LGBT community in Malaysia in recent years.
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