There Are No Gay People Here: Malaysian Tourism Minister

His declaration was made ahead of his visit to Germany for the ITB Berlin travel fair.

Malaysian gays
Official Malaysian policy is to not recognize the LGBTQ community. (Faris Hadziq/SOPA Images/ LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images

Malaysia’s tourism minister is denying the existence of gay people in the country, according to reports in German media.

Tourism Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi told German reporters that he wasn’t aware of gay people in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country, CNN reported, just before attending the ITB Berlin travel fair.

“I don’t think we have anything like that in our country,” he said, responding to a question as to whether Malaysia would welcome gay travelers.

German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle also reported that the minister sidestepped a question concerning the safety of LGBT and Jewish travelers in the country.

Mohamaddin later took to Twitter to clarify his remarks, stating that he was referring to the non-existence of specific LGBT-focused tourist campaigns in the country.

“Tourists coming to Malaysia like any other country are welcome regardless of their creed, sexuality, religion or color,” an aide to the minister  told Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini.

Official Malaysian government policy is to not recognize the LGBT community and homosexual sex is illegal throughout Malaysia under colonial era criminal law.

Gay rights campaigner Thilaga Sulathireh told CNN the minister’s comment was “embarrassingly ignorant” and carries high socioeconomic costs,” should it impact LGBT tourism to Malaysia.

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