Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, has called on Malaysia to decriminalise homosexual conduct following the acquittal of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, for sodomy. The crime carries a 20 year sentence in the country.
Raucous scenes erupted following the ruling that DNA evidence in the case was unreliable and that in the absence of any corroborating evidence, Mr Ibrahim was therefore acquitted of the charges. Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Mr Ibrahim said that he was “surprised” at the judge’s decision as there had been so much unwillingness to follow “normal procedures and processes” in the run-up to the decision.
The EU’s High Representative hailed the “integrity of Malaysia’s judicial system which is an essential pillar in a democratic system”.
The case against Mr Ibrahim had been widely seen as a politically motivated action designed to undermine an opposition leader who represented the first significant threat to a government that has remained in power for 50 years.