Malaysia’s tourism minister says homosexuals don’t exist in his country

The Berlin-based daily paper Tagesspiegel queried Mohammaddin bin Ketapi about whether his country is safe for homosexuals and Jews

March 7, 2019 12:26
2 minute read.
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (photo credit: REUTERS/POOL)


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Datuk Mohammaddin bin Ketapi, the tourism minister of the Muslim-majority country of Malaysia, announced at a Berlin tourism conference on Tuesday that there are no homosexuals in his country.

The Berlin-based daily paper Tagesspiegel queried Mohammaddin bin Ketapi about whether his country is safe for homosexuals and Jews. Mohammaddin bin Ketapi told the paper concerning the presence of Malaysian homosexuals that "I don't think we have anything like that in our country.”

He added that he cannot say with certainty, “But one thing I can say: we do not have that kind of situation.”

Mohamaddin’s comment recalls the former Iranian regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who told Columbia University students in 2007 that “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.” Iran's clerical regime imposes capital punishment on gays.

Malaysia criminalizes same-sex relations. According to Section 377 of the Malaysian Penal Code, homosexuality is defined as “unnatural offences” and the penalty can be 20 years in prison and flogging, as well as a fine.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad declared homosexuality to be part of "Western values.” He lashed out at the West, saying "Don't force it on us."

The ITB Berlin trade conference has been engulfed in an antisemitism and homophobia scandal since January because Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad said he would not allow Israelis to participate in the Paralympic Swimming World Championship, scheduled to take place in Malaysia in July.

As a result of Bin Mohamad’s discrimination of Israeli athletes, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) stripped Malaysia of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in late January.

Malaysia is listed as the official partner country of the IBT tourism event, which is taking place between March 6-10 in Berlin. The IBT is advertised as the world’s largest trade affair.

After The Jerusalem Post exposed widespread pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activity in Berlin in 2017, Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller said, “BDS stands with antisemitic signs in front of Berlin businesses. Those are intolerable methods from the Nazi period. We will do everything possible to withdraw money and rooms for BDS’s anti-Israel agitation.”

The city of Berlin enabling a trade event with the Malaysian regime which promotes an antisemitic boycott of Israel, appears to contradict Müller’s declaration to not conduct business with pro-BDS entities.

Volker Beck, a Green Party politician and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist, said “Israel’s existence is German raison d’état” and urged the mayor to take action against Malaysia.

Beck said, “Homophobia and antisemitism cannot be a partner country. This regime must not be courted.”

Human Rights Watch wrote in 2015 that “Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is pervasive in Malaysia.”

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