'Gay Is Okay!' Book By Local Author Is No Longer Banned In Malaysia After Judicial Review
A book by Malaysian pastor Dr Ngeo Boon Lin titled Gay is Okay! A Christian Perspective can now be sold in the country after a ban by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) was removed
The High Court, on 22 February, allowed a judicial review after the publisher, Gerakbudaya Enterprise, and author, Ngeo, filed a legal challenge against Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin's ban in 2020.
Judge Datuk Noorin Badaruddin, in her ruling, said the government "failed to show evidence of actual prejudice to public order that had occurred" after more than seven years of the book's publication.
Noorin added that, after having read the entire book and understood it from an objective point of view, "it consists of the author's view from a Christian perspective on homosexuality, and rightly or wrongly, it may seem as regards to his content," Bernama quoted her as saying.
The judge also said Gerakbudaya and Ngeo were never given the right to be heard by the government to counter the allegations against them
"There is a duty on the part of the minister to give reasons for his decision, more so in matters where freedom of expression is being stifled and where principles of fairness guaranteed under the Federal Constitution are violated," Noorin stated.
"The book was in the first place unlikely to be prejudicial to public order," she said, adding that the right to express one's view is part of the citizen's right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
The court also awarded RM5,000 in costs to the publisher and the author.
The MOHA banned the book in December 2020 under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act
New Straits Times reported that the ministry's reason for the ban was due to its "content that might be detrimental to public order, morals and public interest".
The ministry's statement said the book was viewed as an attempt to promote homosexual culture in Malaysia, which goes against religious and cultural sensitivities in the country.
Ngeo and Gerakbudaya gained leave from the High Court to legally challenge the ban on 30 March last year.
However, following the High Court's ruling, several parties are demanding authorities take stern action against the author
Yesterday, 23 February, members of Perikatan Nasional's (PN) Selangor youth division and PAS' youth division went to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters to lodge a police report and urged the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to file an appeal against the High Court's ruling.
According to MalaysiaGazette, Selangor PAS Youth deputy chief Muhammad Hanif Jamaluddin said, "If immediate action is not taken, it is certain that the publication of books like this that promote these immoral activities will be difficult to curb and will spread in the future," he said.
He added that his party is ready to meet with the AGC to expedite the appeal at the Court of Appeals.