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Malaysia on ITB 2019: ‘We don’t have gay people’

Malaysia on ITB 2019: ‘We don’t have gay people’

At the recent international tourism fair in Berlin, the Minister of Tourism of ITB partner Malaysia caused a scandal at the opening press conference. Minister Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi stated that there were no gays or lesbians in Malaysia. The Asian country has been under criticism for some time already for the discrimination against Jews and homosexuals. Now, after the Malaysia scandal at ITB Berlin, the minister rows back. More about this year’s scandal at ITB Berlin here on Couple of Men.

by Sarah Tekath

Malaysia: Criticism of state homophobia

At the opening press conference of the international tourism fair ITB in Berlin, the Minister of Tourism of this year’s partner country Malaysia commented on a question if Malaysia was safe for Jews and homosexuals, that homosexuals would not exist in Malaysia. For months, the Southeast Asian country has been under criticism. Just recently in January, because Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad prohibited Israeli athletes to entering Malaysia for the Paralympic Swimming World Cup. The World Cup was subsequently stripped from the country.

Also interesting: We received the ITB LGBTQ+ Pioneer Award 2023 >

LGBTQ+ Rights in Malaysia

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable by torture or imprisonment. According to, homosexuals are persecuted in the predominantly Muslim country under criminal law and ‘Islamic law’. Consensual homosexuality faces 20 years imprisonment or flogging. In 2018, a Sharia court sentenced two lesbian women to lashes there, Handelsblatt writes. Transsexuals continue to be at risk of being punished for arousing public annoyance. Homosexuals and transsexuals are also banned from appearing on television. The Handelsblatt further reports that the government-prescribed homophobia even goes so far as to publish a list in the leading daily newspaper Sinar Harian last year, with the help of which citizens are supposed to recognize gays and lesbians.

No problems in Malaysia for LGBTQ+ travelers

After numerous media outlets reported on the Malaysian tourism minister’s testimony, it was rowed back, Gay Star News writes. With the statement, the Minister of Tourism would have wanted to say that there is currently no campaign for LGBTQ+ tourism and that there would not be any planned in the future. However, this should by no means hinder entry. ‘As one of the main tourist destinations in Asia, Malaysia has never and will not do anything to stop our guests based on their sexual orientation, religion, and cultural belief.’[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]Photo source: © Karl Krause & Daan Colijn
News Sources: Handelsblatt | Gay Star News | Deutsche Welle

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Despite Malaysia Scandal ITB Berlin: Our travel experiences in Asia

So far, our experiences in Asian have been invariably positive. Together we have already been to Vietnam and Japan. Many years ago, Karl also visited other countries in the region such as India, Nepal, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and even Brunei. He also visited Malaysia and can report very positive experiences. Daan spent an extended holiday in Thailand a few years ago and still raves about the wide beaches today. Good to know: LGBTQ+ travelers should have little to no problems in most Asian countries. And yet, women, in particular, should look at the most up-to-date security advice of their local travel advisors, as well as relevant and local guides. Japan and Taiwan are considered to be currently Asia’s most progressive travel countries. And there is also a lot going on in India in terms of rights for lesbians, gays, and queers.
More about: New Gay Travel Index 2019 >

Malaysia Eklat ITB Berlin 2019 ©
Karl & Daanat ITB Berlin 2019 – Looking for new travel adventures ©

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