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Malaysia's top court upholds ban on book by gay pastor

'Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective' was published in 2013 and openly sold until 2020 when the government banned it
Dust jacket of the book 'Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective.'

Dust jacket of the book 'Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective.' (Photo: Article19)

Published: February 29, 2024 06:51 AM GMT
Updated: February 29, 2024 12:00 PM GMT

Malaysia’s top court has upheld a government ban on a book by an openly gay pastor offering alternative Christian perspectives on homosexuality.

The book Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective was published in 2013 and openly sold until 2020 when the government banned it, saying it was "undesirable" under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and is punishable by caning and up to 20 years in jail.

An appeal against the government ban was filed by the openly gay Malaysian-born author of the book, Ngeo Boon Lin, and the publisher, Gerakbudaya, run by its sole proprietor Chong Ton Sin.

A four-year legal process ensued until the Federal Court on Feb. 28 decided that the two plaintiffs had no grounds to appeal the ban, according to The Malay Mail.

The decision was reported to have been announced in the Federal Court over the video-conferencing platform Zoom.

International human rights organization Article 19 slammed the ban.

“The court is not only silencing alternative views but also sending a chilling message to all Malaysians that open discourse and diversity of thought are discouraged,” said its senior Malaysia program officer Nalini Elumalai.

The 54-year-old Ngeo is reported to be the first openly gay pastor in Malaysia.

He is also a well-known Chinese-language newspaper columnist and has written several books on homosexuality under the name Ouyang Wen Feng, according to news reports.

In 2007, he reportedly co-founded a gay-friendly Protestant church near Kuala Lumpur and then left for the US, where he said he was leading a congregation at the Metropolitan Community Church for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in New York.

In 2012, he held a wedding dinner along with his same-sex partner in Kuala Lumpur. The event was reported in the media and caused outrage among both Muslims and Christians.

The marriage was registered a year earlier in New York after same-sex marriages were legalized there.

The event in Kuala Lumpur was a traditional Chinese dinner at a restaurant and was attended by 250 guests. The couple proceeded to go on a honeymoon in Vietnam.

The chain of events drew much public attention, especially the date of the marriage, Aug. 31, which was the day in 1957 when the then Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from Britiain.

A review of the book said Ngeo had adopted a “common-sense” approach to issues of homosexuality and Christianity.

It called the book a "valuable resource for readers who may be uninitiated in the controversies surrounding the interface of homosexuality, religion, biblical thought and various areas of the social sciences in Malaysia.”

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