Imagine being arrested for having consensual sex in the privacy of your hotel room while on vacation.
That’s the situation two Vietnamese tourists found themselves in during a trip to Malaysia.
The New Straits Times reports Tang Van Duc, 22, and Lee Vu Linh, 29, were arrested by the State Immigration Department in their hotel room in Penang for participating in “immoral acts” with an undercover officer on November 12.
The couple pleaded guilty to the charges in court, and Judge Norhayati Mohd Yunus ordered each of them to pay a fine of about $240 (RM1000). They also faced the embarrassment of their photo being posted by local news media.
The men had been visiting the country since October 18 on tourist visas.
#NSTnation: The duo – a gay couple – was arrested by the State Immigration Department in the hotel room while participating in an “immoral act” with an “agent provocateur” at about 9.30pm on Nov 12.https://t.co/eYBd85Qi7f
— New Straits Times (@NST_Online) November 25, 2019
I’ve reported on the grim situation for LGBTQ people in Malaysia many times in recent years.
Malaysia provides no legal protections for LGBTQ individuals, and those arrested for same-sex encounters face severe penalties – up to 20 years in prison as well as fines and public whippings.
Earlier this month, five men in Kuala Lumpur were sentenced to at least six months in prison and being whipped with a cane in public for “attempting to have gay sex.”
In August 2018, police raided a gay bar in the same city saying the arrests were an attempt to “stop the spread of LGBTQ culture in society, according to Pink News.
The next month two Malaysian women were caned for “attempting lesbian sex in a car.”
Duc and Linh enjoy a better legal situation in their own country of Vietnam.
Same-sex relations are legally permitted, gay/bisexual people are allowed to openly serve in the military, and a 2016 survey found rising support – up to 45% at the time – for marriage equality in Vietnam.