Unconstitutional to be homosexual?

Since Sexualiti Merdeka was organised and celebrated earlier this month, homosexuality has been a very hot topic. The event was talked about when the police declared Sexualiti Merdeka unlawful, and went on to ban it entirely, and later even questioned the organisers, despite Sexualiti Merdeka having been in existence since 2008, with no glitches.

It was talked about again when Marina Mahathir came out to defend the organisers, guns a-blazing, saying that Sexualiti Merdeka is about educating the public and especially those who are homosexuals about their rights. Mainstream media reporters were given warnings not to call the Sexualiti Merdeka a “free sex” event, or face the possibility of prosecution.

There is no shortage of articles and comments about homosexuality and whether or not it is acceptable. In Malaysia, one’s sexuality is slowly but surely becoming an issue that people talk about. Whether the opinions are for or against, we cannot deny that this issue is finally being talked about openly, which surely can’t be a bad thing altogether.

Some say that homosexual or not, one’s sexual preference should not be made an issue. After all, what your neighbour does in bed should not concern you. Others argue that homosexuality would spell the end of society and the family unit as we know it. We know religion is no stranger to this ageless debate, where people generously pepper their opinions with quotations and interpretations from holy books.

Now, though, instead of taking a religious standpoint, we have a federal minister coming at the issue from the side of law. He says that being homosexual is “unconstitutional”.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom was quoted to have said, “In reality, in the country’s constitution it is not allowed, including sections 377(a), (b), (c) and (d) which prohibit sexual relations between two men.”

I believe, from what I’ve read of the Federal Constitution, that there are no provisions that prohibit homosexuality. In fact, if I remember rightly, there is nothing in the constitution that says anything about one’s sexuality, or how one’s sexual preference should be.

Perhaps he has confused himself with what the Federal Constitution is, and what the Penal Code is, which is where sections 377 (a), (b), (c) and (d), which he quoted, can be found. So if we were to go by his argument, homosexuality can only be unlawful, but definitely not unconstitutional.

However, being homosexual, whether you like it or not, is not confined to just the bedroom, or wherever one might find carnal desire. Being homosexual, just like being bisexual and heterosexual, is how a person lives, and loves. It’s like a girl wanting to make another girl happy, just as a husband should want to make his wife happy. It’s about a guy wanting to share his life with another guy, just as a wife would want to share her life with her husband.

Being homosexual, and admitting it, in a society that is heavily bound in heterosexual chains, can be a toughie. In a country like ours where social “norms” are almost sacrosanct, it gets even tougher. This combined with prejudices that have taken root for so long, changing mindsets is not something that can be done overnight.

However, as I mentioned, we seem to be making a start. At the very least, it’s out in the open. People are talking about this issue. It’s no longer stuck in the closet, hidden as if it doesn’t exist. Although what’s being said in the public arena has so far been of little substance, I’m hopeful that with time, change will come.

But while we continue to strive for freedom and equality for homosexuals in our country, perhaps we’d also like to ponder on the same bits of law that our federal minister quoted. He found it sensible to say that homosexuality is unconstitutional because sections 377 (a), (b), (c) and (d), which in effect, forbids the “introduction of the penis into the anus or the mouth of the other person.”

Only males have penises. What about our ladies?


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