Today, the Kuala Lumpur High Court quashed a ban imposed by the Minister of Home Affairs on a book entitled ‘Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective’ by author Ngeo Boon Lin. According to the book description, the book analyses biblical verses ‘which have been wrongly employed and misused by many Christians to condemn gays and lesbians,’ arguing that, ‘gay is ok and that Christian churches should embrace LGBT people.’ The Minister imposed the ban pursuant to section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 claiming that reproduction of the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order, morality, and public interest. The High Court found no evidence that the book was prejudicial to public order. The High Court also held that the total ban of the book without giving the publisher, Gerakbudaya Enterprise, and book’s author, Ngeo Boon Lin, the right to be heard before imposing the ban was an irrational decision, expressing procedural fairness concerns. Lastly, the High Court held that the Minister had a duty to give reasons for his decision, especially in matters in which freedom of expression is stifled and principles of fairness guaranteed under the Federal Constitution are violated. The High Court ordered the government pay costs in the sum of RM 5,000 (approximately USD 1,250) to the publisher and the author. ARTICLE 19 has repeatedly called for reform of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
Nalini Elumalai, Senior Malaysia Program Officer at ARTICLE 19, said:
“We welcome the Court’s decision to protect diverse voices. The LGBTQI community in Malaysia has been silenced and censored for too long with government and religious authorities fighting to deny LGBTQI individuals space in public discourse. This decision is an important affirmation of their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
“While today’s judgment represents a valuable check on the Minister’s power, other books that should be available in Malaysia remain banned. Repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 is necessary to ensure it is no longer used to arbitrarily stifle free expression.”
For more information
Nalini Elumalai, Senior Malaysia Program Officer at ARTICLE 19, [email protected].