Malaysia is a beautiful, yet fiercely underated travel destination. The country has a lot to offer, from charming heritage towns, pristine beaches, and some of the worlds oldest rainforest. Not only that, but thanks to its multiculturalism, it boasts an amalgamation of delicious cuisines. With such diversity encouraged throughout the country, one might assume that Malaysia is a gay friendly travel destination. However, with the predominant religion being Islam, there are enforceable laws and social opinions which apply to the LGBT community. In this LGBT Travel Guide, we will delve into the LGBT rights in Malaysia, as well as how to prepare as an LGBT traveller.
A 2020 LGBT Travel Guide to Malaysia
LGBT RIGHTS IN MALAYSIA
The most important thing to understand as an LGBT Traveller in Malaysia is the the law. Unfortunately the legal position is still very backward and forbids all acts of homosexuality. While these laws generally only apply to local citizens, it is still advised to be cautious of your behaviour when in public.
Under British Colonial-Era Laws, Sodomy and Oral Sex are illegal for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. An additional subsection to this law forbids gross indecency between two men. Furthermore, select states in Malaysia implement Islamic Sharia Law, where homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment and public whippings.
Despite numerous appeals to rethink these old fashioned laws, there is very little support from the Malaysian government. Politicians speak very openly regarding their views against the LGBT community and there seems little hope of a change in the near future. As a result, the lack of anti-discrimination means that the LGBT community are at constant risk of persecution.
SOCIAL OPINION OF LGBT IN MALAYSIA
All things considered, it will come as no surprise that LGBT is considered a taboo among society. These strong beliefs amid the population can make life for an LGBT national immensely difficult. The fear of rejection, persecution, and in severe cases violence, means that most members of the community prefer to hide their sexuality.
LGBT TRAVEL IN MALAYSIA
TRAVELLING AS LGBT IN MALAYSIA
So what does this mean if you are an LGBT traveller in Malaysia?
Malaysia is an interesting, cultural, and adventurous travel destination. And despite the negative stigma, we do not believe that LGBT travellers should be dettered from visiting. We look at it this way. ALL cultures have beliefs and traditions. Do we agree with all of them? Of course not. That doesn’t mean that we boycott those countries completely. At the end of the day, we travel to open our minds, and appreciating that there are other ways of life is the first step.
After travelling throughout Malaysia on two occasions, we can assure you that in no way did the legal or social situation negatively impact our travel experience. Of course we exercised caution when in public. But after spending 2 years in Asia, it is normal for us to keep the affectionate side of our relationship to behind closed doors. It’s worth noting that in most places in Asia, it is frowned upon for anybody to show PDA. Even same-sex couples
On the other hand, not everybody wants to have to hide who they are when they travel. And that’s perfectly ok. There are a number of gay-friendly destinations in Asia where you can be out and proud without worry.
LGBT SCENE IN MALAYSIA
In major cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, we were surprised to discover there is an active gay scene. While you won’t find dancing rainbow flags and couples being openly gay, you can expect a safe space where you can have fun among the community.
There doesn’t appear to be much in terms of gay friendly hotels in Malaysia; although we did find a gay club in KL. We even witnessed one of the best drag shows we’ve ever seen at BlueBoy Discotheque.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MALAYSIA
If after reading this LGBT travel guide for Malaysia, we have convinced you to visit, we highly recommend you check out our First Timers Guide to Travelling in Malaysia. This will provide you with all the information you need to prepare for your trip, as well as the best places to visit throughout the county.
As travellers, it should always be a top priority to travel responsibly. We already leave a substantial carbon footprint just by flying to our travel destinations, so that’s even more reason to make a positive impact when we get there. There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, here are some things you can do to minimise your footprint:
1. Do not leave any rubbish on the ground: You would think this would go without saying; however, there are some questionable humans who think it’s ok to throw trash on the ground.
2. Carry a Steripen or iodine tablets to sterilise water: This not only limits your usage of single-use plastic but also saves you money too!
3. Respect the local culture: Be courteous of the local culture and act in such a way that leaves a good impression. Learn a little of the local language (hello and thank you is the minimum, you can use Google Translate), greet the locals in a polite manner, and respect dress codes & traditions.
More on Malaysia
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
- 2 WEEKS IN MALAYSIA – ITINERARY AND TRAVEL GUIDE
- 2 DAYS IN KUALA LUMPUR – ITINERARY & GUIDE
- 15 Cool & Creative Instagram Spots in Kuala Lumpur
- 15 Unique Things to do in Kuala Lumpur – Hidden Gems in KL
- Bukit Tabur West & East Hiking Trails in Kuala Lumpur
Did you enjoy our Gay in Malaysia – LGBT+ Travel Guide?
Well, that concludes Gay in Malaysia – an LGBT+ travel guide to Malaysia. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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