LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

1.5
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  • 10
1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
0
No
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0
No relationship recognition
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
.5
No, but extrajudicial killings occur
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0
No
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a US State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
.5
No official warning but restrictions and potential difficulties detailed
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
0
No
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom of assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propaganda laws”, media gags, etc.)?
.5
No law prohibiting freedom of assembly, but certain laws have been used to restrict freedom of speech for LGBT+ people, including censoring LGBT content in films and other multimedia forms
Talking Points
  • In Malaysia, the LGBT community is often regarded as a taboo. Strict conformity to the traditional binary classification of gender has resulted in discrimination against the LGBT community and violations of their human rights. Their life has become a challenge and the LGBT community can be classified as a marginalized group.
  • Consensual same-sex acts are illegal and punishable by imprisonment in Malaysia under Federal law and Sharia law, and same-sex marriage is not recognized in Malaysia. Such an anti-LGBT environment makes it hard to build a case for doing business in Malaysia or moving top LGBT+ talent here.
  • In 2018, the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) estimated that the number of gay men in Malaysia was estimated to be 310,000 (approximately 1% of the population) and the transgender population was about 30,000.
Impact of LGBT+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    NO RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
In terms of supporting LGBT+ rights, there is notable brand risk to operating in Malaysia.
CLIENT RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
Entrenched cultural and political homophobia create a notable risk that LGBT+ clients may feel alienated by business conducted in Malaysia.
TALENT RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
Consensual same-sex relations and sex marriage are not legal in Malaysia, making it unwise to send LGBT+ talent abroad, where they’ll likely face discrimination and even punishment for same-sex relations, and their spouses won’t be recognized.
MARKETING CHALLENGES
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
Given same-sex relationship being punishable under Federal and States law, as well as the government authorities’ negative attitude for pro- LGBT speeches and media promotion of an LGBT agenda, makes it virtually impossible to market to LGBT+ consumers in Malaysia.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • —There is no official or national organization committed to LGBT+ rights in Malaysia. In the past few years, a few voluntary nonprofit LGBT+ organizations emerged, but still the spaces for LGBT+ to claim for themselves are limited. The major concern for organizations and individuals to work towards positive change is security; especially after several LGBT+ persons receiving rare jail sentences in 2019, the LGBT+ community is on high alert.
  • — Sekesualiti Merdeka, an annual gay rights festival in Malaysia, started in 2008 and was banned in 2011 by the government.
  • — In 2017, a three-day LGBTI event that included a pride march organized by a group of students at Taylor’s University, located near Kuala Lumpur, was cancelled by the university following protests by pro-Islamists’ blogs.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • —A 2013 Pew Research Center opinion survey showed that 9% of the Malaysian population believes homosexuality should be accepted by society, while 86% believe it should not. Malaysia was one of the Asian countries polled with the least acceptance. People over 50 years old were more accepting than younger people: 11% of people over 50 believe it should be accepted, 10% of people between 30 and 49 and 7% of people between 18 and 29. There, however, has been a slight increase in acceptance since 2007, when a Pew Research poll showed that 8% of the population believed homosexuality should be accepted.
  • — Some transgender women in Malaysia reported abusive arrests have diminished since an appeal court ruled a state’s cross-dressing laws unconstitutional in 2014 despite the Federal Court subsequently overturning the ruling on a technicality. Currently, transgender women primarily fear violence from ordinary people. A 2018 survey by a local transgender rights group reported more than two-thirds of transgender women experienced some form of physical or emotional abuse. Multiple LGBT people reported a spike in anti-LGBT hate speech on the internet since 2018.
  • — On January 2019, a transgender woman was killed in Klang, the third such event in Malaysia in fewer than two months.
  • — In August 2018, a transgender woman named Suki was beaten by eight men so severely that doctors had to remove her spleen.
  • — In December 2018, two men were pulled and beaten by attackers for allegedly engaging in same-sex intimacy.
  • — In 2017, one transgender woman named Sameera Krishnan was stabbed and shot to death in Kuantan and an 18-year-old student, T. Nhaveen in Penang, was beaten to death by high school classmates who had bullied him for being “effeminate”.
Local Leaders Advocating for Equality

As appropriate, Out Leadership encourages you and your company to engage in safe and cautious discussion with local leaders around LGBT+ equality and to leverage your firm’s influence to support their work. Due to conditions on the ground, activists in Malaysia are currently keenly focused on ensuring the physical safety of LGBT+ people there.