Repeal Section 377

Anwar embraces Wan Azizah after the Federal Court verdict on 10 February 2015

Join us on Telegram and Instagram for the latest.

The British Raj introduced Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which was drafted in 1860 – and it is the same Section 377 that is in the Malaysian Penal Code, points out Wandering Malaysian.

The jailing of Anwar Ibrahim for allegedly consensual sex with an adult male puts Malaysia in the spotlight for being rabidly homophobic.

Whether Anwar is guilty or innocent of this charge is not the issue here (although the tainted court process and evidence of political chicanery has put Malaysia’s entire judiciary on trial, never mind the credibility of the government).

The real question is why is consensual sex between two adults of the same sex a heinous crime in Malaysia?

To put it simply, Anwar is in jail today because of the British colonial Raj in India. The British Raj introduced Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which was drafted in 1860!

So 155 years later, in the age of Fifty Shades of Grey, poor Anwar is being subject to the moral rectitude of the British Raj. Section 377 of Malaysia’s Penal Code, modelled after the Indian Penal Code (note the same section number!), criminalises carnal intercourse against the order of nature i.e. oral and anal sex. Yes, even oral sex between heterosexual adults.

So clearly we have an antiquated law. But how many times has this law been enforced in Malaysian history? According to Simranjit Kaur Gill, there have been a grand total of seven charges brought under this law since 1938. Four out of these seven charges were connected to Anwar! Hmmm ….do the words selective prosecution, abuse of the legal process, witch hunt and political persecution come to mind?

READ MORE:  Pakatan Harapan needs to reflect on recent decisions

What have the Indians done with their Section 377 of the Penal Code which was the fountain of the sodomy laws for the Commonwealth? Why, they repealed it of course: in 2009.

Two years earlier, Singapore modified Section 377a of their Penal Code to exclude consensual oral and anal sex (well in typical Singaporean fashion, of course). So where does that leave Malaysia?

Leaving religion out of the bedroom and with apologies to the Sharia fans out there, it is time to follow the Indians. (There has been no surge in homosexuality in India since 2009 and the right wing Hindus there are as equally worked up over sexual morality as our Malaysian Sharia advocates.)

So let us repeal Section 377….and free Anwar, taking another step towards a more inclusive Malaysia.


Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x