Disorder marred the new Unity Government’s first parliamentary session on Monday after the opposition leader quoted a controversial article published by an Italian newspaper that claimed Malaysia had elected its first “full-blown homosexual prime minister.”
The commotion erupted on Monday after opposition leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin brought up several issues, including the controversial article from Italian newspaper Agenzia Nova. The report’s headline read: “Malaysia: first full-blown homosexual elected Prime Minister in an Islamic country.”
Several members of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, of which new Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is chairman, took offense at Hamzah’s statement and demanded that the opposition leader retract it.
Lim Guan Eng, a member of the Democratic Action Party, one of the four components of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, accused Hamzah of personally attacking the PM by referencing the report made by an “unknown news outlet.”
The article, published on Nov. 24, the same day Anwar was elected as the new PM, detailed accusations of sodomy against Anwar in two cases, for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2014. He eventually received a royal pardon in 2018.
It is illegal to have same-sex intercourse in Malaysia, and anyone caught engaging in the act may face jail time and/or whipping under the country’s Section 28 of Selangor Syariah (Sharia, or Islamic law) Criminal Enactment 1995.
After being accused of slander, Hamzah, a Larut MP, shouted back and asked them to let him finish, clarifying that the government should take action against the Italian newspaper as the article was an insult to Anwar.
“The government is responsible for informing the world that Tambun (Anwar) was pardoned by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” Hamzah said. “Tambun must take action against external agencies, not just those in this country.”