Sunday March 1, 2009
Illegal but not abnormal
THE problem with having a video recording of one’s sexual escapades, as former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek discovered last week, is that it will come back to haunt you.
Dr Chua was called up by the police after a fresh police report was lodged against him over the sex video scandal he was involved in early last year. A businessman claimed he had found an envelope containing a compact disc of the video footage and two letters in his mailbox and, after viewing the video, lodged the report on seeing the man having oral sex performed on him by a woman.
Oral sex, described as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” under Section 377A of the Penal Code, is illegal in Malaysia and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years jail and whipping.
Under the section, anal sex is also illegal.
Paul Jambunathan, consultant clinical psychologist at Monash University Malaysia and Sunway Medical Centre, points out that although oral sex is not considered abnormal in the psychology of sexual behaviour, it is considered illegal in many countries.
“Laws are based on the socio-cultural system of the country and that has to be respected. So, oral sex can be considered as illegal, not abnormal,” he says.
Many couples in Malaysia, including married ones, engage in the act and consider it as an important component to foreplay and sexual stimulation, he says.
“If they are adults with mutual consent, it should be fine,” he says.
On anal sex, Australian sex therapist Dr Rosie King says although many heterosexual couples practise this in Australia, it is generally unacceptable because it is seen as unhealthy and unnatural. However, it is not illegal.
“In Australia, oral sex is considered to be against the laws of nature too but it is widely practised as it is not considered unhealthy in the sexual health field. It is seen as just another sexual activity.”
Sex tapes and pictures have also been used as evidence against those who engage in sexual relations with minors, which is illegal in many countries.
Under the Syariah Law in Malaysia, there is some contention. Commenting on the case of Hilmi Malek, the suspect in the Elizabeth Wong picture scandal, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said that it was enough evidence to start building a case against him for zina (unlawful intercourse) or khalwat (close proximity). However, this will require testimony from Wong.
Other Syariah law experts feel that this is not sufficient evidence. According to the Selangor Religious Department, someone can only be charged in the Syariah Court for those offences if there were witnesses to the act or if he or she was caught in the act.