SIS Opposes to the Amendment of Act 355 (RUU355)

This statement is in response to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary’s statement on the amendment of Act 355 (RUU355) as featured in Malay
Mail’s on 19 January 2021: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/01/19/putrajaya-could-amend-act-355-to-introduceheavier-punishments-against-lgbt/1941893 (Headline: Putrajaya could amend Act 355 to introduce harsher punishments against LGBT community, says deputy minister)

Sisters in Islam (SIS) unequivocally object the amendment of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 (RUU355) to provide heavier punishments on lesbians, gays, bisexuals and
transgender (LGBTQ).

The proposed increment in 2017 of punishment to 30 years imprisonment, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane from the present limit of 3 years imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane is appalling as Act 355 will potentially result in more injustices in the long run to all persons charged under the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactments especially. Proposed heavier penalties specifically targeted towards LGBTQ persons and communities are discriminatory and would also increase their vulnerability in a society that already marginalises and rejects them. Harsh punishments carried out in Islam’s name would result in Islam being known as a religion that is punitive and uncompassionate.

This amendment also contradicts Islam’s obligation to be fair and just to everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, gender and identities. This can be seen through these Quranic verses,

“O, believers! Stand firm for Allah and bear true testimony. Do not let the hatred of a people lead you to injustice. Be just! That is closer to righteousness. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what you do. (Quran 5:8)

“Indeed, Allah commands you to return trusts to their rightful owners; and when you judge between people, judge with fairness. What a noble commandment from Allah to you! Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” (Quran 4:58)

SIS also opposes Ahmad Marzuk Shaary’s call to the public to come forth and report on the information of activities carried out by the LGBTQ community. This type of moral policing and spying is appalling and
shocking. It would only heighten the stigmatisation against the LGBTQ community and aggravate aggression towards them by the public, making them more vulnerable to violence and threats to their lives.

As Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Ahmad Marzuk surely realises that spying and moral policing are against Islam. Many verses in the Quran reject spying such as, “And
do not spy, nor backbite one another.” (Quran 49:12) and,

“O, believers! Do not enter any house other than your own until you have asked for permission and greeted its occupants. This is best for you, so perhaps you will be mindful. If you find no one at home, do not enter it until you have been given permission. And if you are asked to leave, then leave. That is purer for you. And Allah has ˹perfect˺ knowledge of what you do. ” (Quran 24:27-28)

It was also reported in a hadith, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘If you seek out the faults of the Muslims, you will corrupt them, or are about to corrupt them.'” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

In a recent article on Malaysia Kini published on 21 January 2021, (Reference: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/559824 , Headline: PM wants Asean to be tougher on hate speech against gender, sexual orientation), Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has suggested ASEAN to consider taking stronger legislation against hate speech, including harassment based on a person’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or nationality at the first ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting.

This call on hate speech and harassment made, while progressive is contradictory and hypocritical to the recent statement and calls made to penalise the LGBTQ community through harsher punishments in law
and to mobilise the community to report them to the authorities. PAS President Hadi Awang has stated PAS’s decision to postpone the enactment of RUU355 given the current state of emergency. Even so, SIS believes that any future proposed harsher punishments to the LGBTQ community will cause more damage than good as this will encourage violence, potential abuse of power and discrimination. Hence, SIS reiterates our objections to RUU355 for it is a law that is unjust and un-Islamic.

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