By Khairah N. Karim | New Straits Times

The publisher and author of the book “Gay is OK!: A Christian Perspective” have succeeded in obtaining leave to proceed with their legal challenge over the banning of the book. NSTP

The publisher and author of the book Gay is OK!: A Christian Perspective have succeeded in obtaining leave to proceed with their legal challenge over the banning of the book.

In the legal action, publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and author, Ngeo Boon Lin, had named the Home Minister and the government as the first and second respondents respectively.

When contacted, federal counsel Mohammad Sallehuddin Md Ali who acted for the respondents said the High Court today allowed the two applicants’ (Gerakbudaya and Ngeo) bid for leave to initiate a judicial review.

He said the decision was delivered via e-mail by judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya after she heard the application today.

“The court has fixed April 13 for case management,” Sallehuddin said.

Lawyer Michael Cheah Ern Tien represented the applicants.

Gerakbudaya and Ngeo had filed their legal action through law firm Messrs AmerBON at the High Court here on Feb 17.

They filed the judicial review leave application to revoke the banning order dated Nov 27, last year.

In their legal action, they claimed that the Home Minister had no legal and factual basis to impose the ban as it is not likely for the book to be prejudicial to public order, morality, and public interest.

They claimed that the ban was irrational and a disproportionate violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to equal treatment under the Federal Constitution.

The applicants said there were no untoward incidents caused by the book which has been in publication for over seven years, adding that Part One of the book had already been published in the period from 2010 to 2011.

They said the Home Minister had failed to provide any reasons as to how the book was likely to be prejudicial to public order and identify the parts deemed prejudicial.

“In light of the matters stated above, the ban is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it,” they contended.

The two applicants also claimed that they came to know of the ban from online media reports published on Dec 18, 2020 following a media statement issued by Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz on the same day.

They further contended that in spite of issuing a letter dated Feb 2, 2021 through their lawyers to the first respondent to revoke the ban order within seven days, no reply was given and there were no reasons provided to support the ban.

Bernama reported that on Nov 27 last year, the Home Ministry had gazetted a prohibition order on the publications of the book under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Wan Ahmad Dahlan said it is absolutely prohibited to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell circulate, distribute, or own the publication in the country.

He said the contents of the publication “Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective” were viewed as an attempt to promote homosexual culture in Malaysia, which goes against religious and cultural sensitivities in the country.