PETALING JAYA: The government will not condone excessive action or harassment against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
However, he added in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in New York on Saturday (Sept 23) that Malaysia will never recognise LGBT rights.
"Muslims and non-Muslims alike, there is a consensus - they do not accept this, open public displays of this (LGBT) but do we then go and harass them? That is a different subject. I do not approve of any attempt to harass," said Anwar.
Asked about the recent ban of Swatch's Pride watches and the possible three-year prison sentence for a person found guilty of flouting the ban, Anwar said that he could not defend all the enforcement actions and added that he would like to see that changed.
In early August, the Home Ministry banned Swatch products containing LGBT elements and said that anyone possessing such products could face up to three years in jail, a maximum fine of RM20,000 or both if convicted.
The Home Ministry said Putrajaya banned all Swatch products containing LGBTQ+ elements including watches, boxes, wrappers and all other relevant materials.
The ban was gazetted on Aug 10 and it is in line with provisions under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
“The Malaysian Government is committed to stopping the spread of elements that could be harmful to morality, as well as the interest of the public and nation, in society,” said the Home Ministry.
On this, Anwar then added that he has to respect the consensus of Malaysians
"The consensus of the people, I have to respect. But it should not be seen as harassment," said Anwar.
When Amanpour said Anwar should be more sensitive to the sodomy laws as he was falsely accused under such a law, Anwar said he has made it quite clear that the law should be reviewed to prevent abuses and political persecution.
"I have made it quite clear that we have to review, look at the law; it should not be abused, in the case that I went through it was used for political persecution, but finally we have to respect the general sentiments of Malaysians," said Anwar.
"We should exercise some tolerance as the issue against the LGBT (community) is harassment and that I think we have to avoid," added Anwar to a question if a "don't ask don't tell" policy is what Malaysians would accept.