By Ho Kit Yen | Free Malaysia Today

Then home minister Hamzah Zainudin banned the book in 2020 after deeming it an “undesirable publication”.

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision on the government’s bid to restore a ban imposed on the book, Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective.

Justice Azizah Nawawi, who led a panel of three judges, said the court needed time to deliberate on submissions from the home ministry as well as lawyers for Gerakbudaya publisher Chong Ton Sin and writer Ngeo Boon Lin.

Justices Gunalan Muniandy and Wong Kian Kheong also sat to hear the appeal.

Last year, Chong and Ngeo successfully got the High Court to quash the ban.

The home ministry had in 2020 banned the book under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 on the grounds that it was deemed an undesirable publication. The book was published in 2013.

Revoking the ban, the High Court said the government failed to show evidence of “actual prejudice to public order that had occurred”. Justice Noorin Badaruddin held that the book was “unlikely to be prejudicial to public order”.

She added that the government had failed to give Chong and Ngeo the right to be heard by the government to counter the allegations made against them.

Earlier today, senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly @ Alwi, appearing with federal counsel Sallehuddin Md Ali for the home ministry, urged the appeals court to reinstate the ban. He said the book promotes homosexuality and contravened the cultural beliefs of the country.

He added that sometime in February 2020, home ministry officers conducted random checks at the Gerakbudaya bookstore and found the books on display. They brought the book to the office to review its contents.

After examination, then home minister Hamzah Zainudin said he was satisfied that the contents of the book were “likely to be prejudicial to morality”.

Meanwhile, Chong and Ngeo’s lawyer, Edmund Bon, told the court that the High Court’s decision should be upheld.

He said the book provided an “alternative” view from a Christian perspective as to whether homosexuality should be opposed.

Bon told the court that Hamzah had made a subjective assessment of the book without reading it in its full context.