MALAYSIA: A recent Pew Research Center survey across six Asian countries unveils that a staggering eight out of 10 Malaysians are against legalising same-sex marriages.
Only 17% of respondents in Malaysia expressed support for such legalisation, ranking it second-lowest among surveyed nations, with Indonesia at a mere 5%.
The survey highlights that the strongest resistance to legalising same-sex marriage was found in Indonesia, with 95% opposing, followed closely by Malaysia at 82% among the 1,999 respondents.
Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority nation, also exhibited substantial opposition at 69%.
In Singapore, where no single religious group holds a majority, opinions were divided, with 51% opposing and 45% supporting legal same-sex marriage.
Notably, Thailand and Cambodia, both Buddhist-majority countries, recorded the highest levels of support for same-sex marriage, with 60% and 57% of respondents in favour, respectively.
Religious breakdowns within Malaysia show that Buddhists exhibited the highest level of support for legalising same-sex marriage at 59%, followed by Hindus at 49%, Christians at 35%, and only 8% of Muslims polled expressing support.
The survey points out that Buddhists across the surveyed nations were generally more supportive of same-sex marriage than Muslims and Christians.
“Overall, Buddhists are much more likely than Muslims and Christians to support gays and lesbians marrying legally,” the survey report said.
Singapore, however, had a unique dynamic, with those without religious affiliation (62%) showing stronger support for legalising same-sex marriage than Buddhists.
Across the board, support for legalising same-sex marriage was consistently low among Muslims, with only 4% in Indonesia expressing support. Christians displayed somewhat higher support but still remained below 35% in all countries surveyed.
“By contrast, no more than about a quarter of Muslims in any country surveyed support legal same-sex marriage, including just 4% in Indonesia.
“Support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is somewhat more common among Christians, but still no higher than 35% in any of the countries studied,” the report said.
Pew Research Center noted that same-sex marriage is not legal in any of the six countries surveyed.
In Malaysia, the LGBT community faces legal challenges under Section 377A of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and which makes oral and anal sex illegal for all citizens, and state Shariah laws further criminalise homosexual relations and cross-dressing.
Since taking office, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has made it clear that his administration does not recognize the LGBT community, secularism, or communism.
The Pew Research Center conducted the survey, titled “Buddhism, Islam, and Religious Pluralism in South and Southeast Asia,” from 1 June 2022, to 4 September 2022, with 13,122 adults interviewed across the six countries.
In Malaysia, 1,999 adults were polled using computer-assisted telephone interviewing with mobile phones.
The margin of error for the Malaysian data is 3.0 percentage points.
The religious demographics of respondents in Malaysia were as follows: 75% identified as Muslims, 10% as Christians, 7% as Buddhists, 5% as Hindus, 2% as having no religion, and 1% as followers of Chinese traditional religions, including Taoism, Confucianism, or local Chinese religions.
According to the 2020 census by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Malaysia’s population consists of 63.5% Muslims, 18.7% Buddhists, 9.1% Christians, 6.1% Hindus, and 2.7% adherents of other religions.
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