Two states in Malaysia are planning to impose harsher penalties against people found guilty of homosexuality.

Homosexuality is already criminalised under federal law in Malaysia with punishments including fines, whippings and imprisonment of up to 20 years.

The states of Pahang and Malacca, however, now aim to also prosecute offenders in Islamic religious courts and to add these penalties to those from civil courts; in effect resulting in longer sentences.

“So many people like to promote human rights, even up to the point they want to allow lesbian activities and homosexuality,” Malacca Islamic Religious Department Chairman and Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam told Reuters.

“In Islam, we cannot do all this. It is against Islamic law,” he said.

The proposed law would also punish those that are deemed guilty of “promoting” homosexuality.

“We want to put it in the enactment so that we can enforce it and bring them to our sharia [Islamic law] court. Then we can charge them for promoting or supporting these illegal activities,” added Ali.

Malaysia was criticised for its recent ban of an annual “sexual diversity” festival that had been set to take place in Kuala Lumpur this month.

Earlier this year, human rights groups called on the Malaysian authorities to put a stop to the practice in certain schools of forcing male students – some reported to be as young as 12 – into camps to “cure” them of homosexuality and feminine behaviour.

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