Rights groups had reacted with anger to such calls, just as they did to news of the Swatch raid. JEJAKA, a gay rights organisation said it was dismayed by the “unwarranted crackdown” and urged the government “to promote a culture of acceptance and understanding rather than repression and discrimination”.
The Home Affairs Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Its minister, Saifuddin Nasution, earlier said he was waiting for a full report on the raids before issuing a statement.
Anwar was jailed twice on sodomy charges, although he has called them unjust and received a royal pardon in 2018. He has so far rejected opposition accusations that he plans to legalise same-sex marriage, which like in most of Asia, is not recognised by authorities.
PAS, which governs various states, has also drawn criticism from rights groups for enacting laws which they say discriminate against minorities. This includes a push last year by north-eastern Terengganu state, which PAS controls, to enact a law to punish Muslim women for out-of-wedlock pregnancies and for donning men’s clothing.
“The raid appears to be a way for the government to react to allegations that it is not sensitive to Islamic matters,” ahead of six key state elections due in a few months, said Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar, a political lecturer at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Yet some watchers were unsure why the government was getting involved at all. “Based on recent Malaysian history, the opposition always wins at these sorts of games as they can always propose something drastic or radical but the government can’t do that,” said Chin. “This is a very silly game for the government to get involved in.”
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