Prohibition of “Gay is good!” book canceled after judicial review

KUALA LUMPUR: Gay book publisher and author is OK! A successful Christian prospect in their bid to remove a book ban by the Home Secretary in 2020.

The High Court Judge, Judge Noorin Badaruddin, granted permission for publisher Chong Ton Sin and author Ngeo Boon Lin’s application for judicial review to overturn the Minister’s restraining order.

Judge Noorin, in her ruling delivered via virtual proceedings yesterday, said there was no evidence or factual legal basis for the Home Secretary’s justification which formed the basis of the ban.

“Having read the entire book and understood it objectively, this tribunal is of the opinion that apart from the compilation of articles written by the second applicant (Ngeo) which has been published on the Malaysiakini portal between 2010 and 2011, this is the author’s perspective from a Christian perspective on homosexuality, rightly or wrongly,” Bernama quoted her.

Justice Noorin says the book should be limited to this religion, although there may be subjective perception as to its content, evaluation and value.

She added that after more than seven years after its publication, the respondents (Minister of the Interior and government) had not provided proof of a real breach of public order.

“When such evidence is produced, it follows that the book was in the first place unlikely to be prejudicial to public order.

“The right to express one’s opinion is part of the citizen’s right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Of course, this right has its limits.

“However, a total ending of the entire book, which contains an expression of the author’s opinion (…) without the petitioner having a right to be heard, or to counter the allegations, is an irrational decision because the book had been in circulation for some time,” she says.

Justice Noorin further stated that the court was of the view that it was the minister’s duty to give reasons for his decision, as freedom of expression was stifled and the principle of fairness guaranteed by the federal Constitution was violated.

On February 17, 2021, the duo filed the judicial review claiming the ban was irrational and disproportionate because no untoward incidents had been sparked by the book since its publication over seven years.

They claimed that the first part of the book was published in Malaysiakini from 2010 to 2011.

The petitioners argue that the Minister provided no justification as to how the book was likely to undermine public order, morality or the public interest.

On December 18, 2020, he reported that the Home Office had issued a restraining order on a publication titled Gay is OK! A Christian perspective under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, which came into force on 27 November of the same year.

Lawyers Edmund Bon and Micheal Chia represented the candidates while Federal Councilor Mohammad Salehuddin Md Ali acted for the respondents.