Malaysia faces a potential backlash from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights groups after claiming that the Muslim-majority country doesn't have gays.
On Tuesday, Tourism Minister Datuk Mohammaddin bin Ketapi was asked by reporters ahead of the opening of the ITB Berlin tourism fair whether the country was safe for gay and Jewish visitors.
After initially sidestepping the question, the minister was asked again whether gays were welcome and he replied: "I don't think we have anything like that in our country."
Denial could hurt bookings
Despite efforts by Malaysian officials to downplay the incident, Ketapi's comments could derail attempts to entice more tourists to visit Malaysia. The remarks came after he spoke for several minutes about the country's natural beauty and welcoming culture.
The country has set itself a target of receiving 30 million visitors in 2019. Read more via DW