By The Vibes
The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision to reimpose a ban on the book titled Gay is OK! A Christian Perspective.
The panel of judges said more time was needed to consider the submissions by the home ministry, as well as lawyers for Gerakbudaya publisher Chong Ton Sin and author Ngeo Boon Lin, according to Free Malaysia Today.
The three-member panel of judges included Datuk Azizah Nawawi, Datuk Gunalan Muniandy, and Datuk Wong Kian Kheong.
The home ministry was represented by senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly and federal counsel Mohammad Sallehuddin Ali.
Hanir urged the appeals court to restore the ban, claiming the book promoted homosexuality and violated the cultural beliefs of the nation.
He added that home ministry officers conducted random checks at the Gerakbudaya bookstore in February 2020, and found the books on display.
Following reviews on its content, then-home minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said he was satisfied that the contents of the book were “likely to be prejudicial to morality”.
Meanwhile, Edmund Bon, the lawyer representing Chong and Ngeo, told the court that the High Court’s decision should be upheld.
He said Hamzah had made a subjective evaluation of the book without reading it in its full context, and the book actually provided an “alternative” view from a Christian perspective on the discourse of homosexuality.
Last year, the High Court overturned the government’s ban on the book, after Justice Datuk Noorin Badaruddin allowed a legal challenge to its prohibition.
On December 18, 2020, the home ministry gazetted a prohibition order on the publication under section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, effective November 27, 2020.
The ministry’s Chief Secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz said it is absolutely prohibited to print, import, produce, reproduce, publish, sell, circulate, distribute, or own these publications in the country.
Subsequently, on February 17, 2021, Ngeo and Gerakbudaya Enterprise filed the judicial review leave application to quash the prohibition order, claiming that the ban was irrational and violated their freedom of speech as no inappropriate incidents were triggered by the book since it was published in 2013.
Nonetheless, on November 1, Hamzah told the court that the book could disrupt public order as it promotes homosexuality.
In his affidavit to oppose the judicial review application by the two applicants, he said the contents of the book have a tendency to incite the people to hold mass protests and subsequently create chaos.