IIUM Forum on Homosexuality

Azril Mohd Amin & Muhammad Husni Mohd Amin
Himpunan Keilmuan Muslim (HAKIM)

Behind terrorism, which is almost exclusively performed by younger Muslims, are various political, economic, and educational factors much in the news lately. What is not recognized is the collapse of gender wisdom in the proliferation of extreme terrorist acts.

“Homosexuality: Crime or Right?” was a recent IIUM forum (April 14, 2012) of such embarrassment that this widespread breakdown of gender philosophy was not even mentioned.

Even if we grant a promissory note with regards to avoiding the gender issue, we may say that the story of the people of Prophet Lut in Al Qur’an makes it perfectly clear that Allah SWT is not pleased with homosexuality. As per the usual pattern of Divine Punishment after fair warnings, every single citizen of what the Bible calls Sodom and Gomorrah, including Lut’s wife, was destroyed upon refusal of Prophet Lut’s plea to marry his daughters instead of other men.

Or we may avoid theological gender issues by discussing recent medical research that purports to find an excess of female hormones (estrogen, for example) in the blood chemistry of practicing male homosexuals, and vice versa — an excess of male hormones (testosterone, for example) in the blood chemistry of lesbians. The similar fallacy is apparent in a so-called scientific point of view that a homosexual’s brain is somewhat different than that of a heterosexual to say they are born as homosexuals and therefore unable to change. To this we can argue that how are they so sure that the difference is not caused by carrying out homosexual acts rather than a condition one is born in. For example, according to a research from University College London, a taxi driver’s part of the brain called the hippocampus enlarges and adapts to help them navigate the city but this does not mean in anyways that one is born predisposed to drive a taxi. The LGBT people often express a complaining arrogance against Allah SWT when they say, in effect, God made a mistake – He created me a biochemical woman but gave me a man’s body or vice versa.

The Unitarian Christians (those who do NOT believe in the Trinity) have in the past given over their pulpits to Guest Preachers who thank their god that they were given the courage and opportunity to separate from their wives and children, with whom they were not happy, and join their same-sex lovers elsewhere. Their American middle class congregation listens with an almost unbelievable passivity and politeness to such comments from these preachers.

Such, we must suppose, is one of the requirements of being a “liberal” Christian. Would a Muslim, for example, a Sahabah of Rasulullah (s.a.w.) be more likely to stand up and invite the congregation to follow him or her straight out of the premises where such nonsense is being extolled.

This writers’ colleague witnessed such an event among the Christians personally and regrets that his courage was not sufficient to stand up and walk out in protest and disgust. He, too, became polite and passive, as so many of our contemporary Muslims are doing, as if they join in testifying, “Let us now praise our Creator that we need not follow anyone of the opposite sex if we are uncomfortable doing so.”

Educationally, we may wonder why a converted Muslim professor might journey or relocate all the way to Malaysia rather than remain in his high-paying position in California, if he wished to escape the overt homosexuals freely parading about, quite proud of their subculture, as they have done during certain periods of the IIUM administration, and do every single night of the week around two in the morning in the vicinity of KL’s Hard Rock Café.

And here we go again. Without the slightest reference to the pivotal psychology of gender differences in human society, IIUM has engaged a few different viewpoints on the matter. It was reported in a recent Malaysiakini news piece, that Islamic Renaissance Front chairperson Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa told a groundbreaking forum on homosexuality that more than half of the seven prosecutions for oral or anal intercourse (Section 377 of the Penal Code) in recent Malaysian history were against Anwar Ibrahim. He said this was an example of how such laws may be used to persecute political figures.

In Indonesia recently, before Anwar was exonerated, one could notice the laughter with which the Indonesian populace greeted mention of this obsession with sexuality in the Malaysian search for a credible opposition figure. The obvious question to them was, if the shadow of scandal touches Anwar, why have not Malaysians spent the past twenty years looking for a different opposition leader, if they truly wish to legitimize their democratic aspirations? Why rely on one single leader who is after all has thus far only capable of providing Malaysians with a mediocre leadership?

To the Indonesians, it is not the existence of Penal Code Section 377 that is the problem. The problem is its irrelevant application to a political dilemma that continues to prevent Malaysia from forming anything more than a one-party democracy, such as those against which Arabs are now rebelling in great numbers among their own governments.

Farouk Musa advocates the freedom to sin as well as the freedom to behave well, something of an impossibility given the Malaysian Constitution’s declaration that all Malays are born Muslim (and the implication that they must behave accordingly). A Malay Muslim is bound by law, therefore, to decide whether his same-sex relationships are constitutional or not. The “liberal Muslims” cannot tolerate this sort of legal dilemma and are trying to eliminate it, by means, for example, of the BERSIH gatherings, which by implication cannot avoid the issue of amending the relevant article of the Federal Constitution.

It was reported that another panelist, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, said that there are about 76 out of 190-odd countries that still criminalise homosexuality, most of which are Commonwealth Countries that have inherited the law from their colonial masters. How can he lay the blame on European colonists when the issue is so clearly presented in Al Qur’an itself?

To illustrate that the issue of gay rights is not a cultural confrontation between the West and East or Islamic countries, Lim named several non-Western countries where homosexuality is not a crime.

These include Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Vietnam, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Indonesia – at the national level, although some provinces have enacted anti-gay laws – of which the latter three are Muslim-majority countries.

In answering the moderator’s question whether homosexuality is a crime or a right, Lim said, “Certainly at its lowest common denominator, (it is) a right not to persecuted, a right not to be humiliated, and a right not to be discriminated against.” Does this become so simply because this man says, “Certainly”?

Meanwhile, Seksualiti Merdeka founder Pang Khee Teik, who was also among the audience, told the forum that he was grateful that the discussion was being held, and that IIUM’s law lecturer Dr. Shamrahayu A. Aziz was willing to be a panelist despite being uncomfortable with the topic and disagreeing with it.

“As a Malaysian growing up being gay, feeling and hearing everyday how society wants me to be captured, arrested, beaten up, stoned to death… to be able to see a forum like this in this esteemed university is very touching to me. “I am very touched that we can finally talk about it, and that is all that we are asking for,” he said.

Pang added that people are entitled to think that homosexuality is wrong, but the LGBT community would like to see equal treatment under the law and equal access to opportunities.

Dr. Shamrahayu A. Aziz argued that “what is immoral cannot be a right”. As a consequence, she said the federal constitution allows restrictions on immoral activities. One might observe that the famous constitutional amendments known in the USA as the “Bill of Rights” establish such restrictions according to the Americans’ own value-systems.

Dr. Shamrahayu asserted that homosexuality is “a sin as well as a crime”, and cited concerns that if homosexuality becomes a right, it would lead to the slippery slope of allowing same-sex marriages, among interpretations of perfectly clear Qur’anic prohibitions.

She could have referred to Ibn Hanbal, famous for noting that if an issue or problem was not treated by the Prophet himself (s.a.w.), then it is clearly not of any great importance to the human community. One example might homosexuality, which as far as we know, during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) there was not one single case of a reported punishment or execution for homosexuality or same-sex acts. The first execution to ever have been carried out was during the time of the third Caliph, Umar (r.a).

“This is what I am worried about for our nation. This is what I worry not only for religion, but also for this (Malaysian) civilisation. We have to have a touchstone in this civilisation, and that touchstone is morality,” said the associate law professor.

Shamrahayu also caused a stir in the otherwise cordial atmosphere when she said that kindergartens should not hire homosexuals as kindergarten teachers, just as a bank should not hire a gambler.

The Americans have long since permitted primary schools to hire homosexual teachers, so long as no body-contact is allowed, as if the worldview and body language of homosexual teachers are not also influentially damaging to the children as simple, naïve, and clean-slate witnesses. “Would I hire someone who has this morally, ungodly attitude to work in my (hypothetical) kindergarten? I won’t,” she said.

This prompted a question from one of the 100-odd audience asking if she had to choose between a homosexual and a promiscuous person to be a teacher, what would be her choice. Another member of the audience shouted, “How are you going to check?”, and he was joined by yet another who said that homosexuality is not about sex (without further explanation).

Dr. Shamrahayu was not intimidated and responded to the audience “Give me the freedom of choice. I am an employer and you are pushing me to choose what I don’t like,” she said, raising her voice among the now-noisy audience. “If you want to be a gay, that’s your choice. Give me the choice to choose my employee.”

In other words, give us the “human right” to protect our own children from viewing the social and even genetic dysfunction of non-binary relations. Never, never disregard the issue of discretion in the public moral life among leaders, such as that which so humiliated the Americans under Bill Clinton, or those who used to be friends of Anwar Ibrahim.

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