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Malaysian and Indonesian groups call for Starbucks boycott over LGBT support

Muslim groups in Malaysia and Indonesia have called for a boycott of Starbucks because of the coffee chain's support for LGBT rights.

Malaysian group Perkasa called on its more than 500,000 members to stay away from Starbucks shops, and leaders of Indonesia's second largest Muslim group, Muhammadiyah, with about 29 million members, also denounced the chain.

The groups are apparently reacting to comments made several years ago by former chief executive Howard Schultz in support of gay rights that drew renewed attention amid an increasingly anti-LGBT climate in both countries.

Shares of the company that operates Starbucks in Indonesia fell this week but its stores in the capital Jakarta appeared as popular as ever.

Perkasa said in a statement that the Malaysian government should revoke the trading licence given to Starbucks and other companies such as Microsoft and Apple that support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Amini Amir Abdullah, who heads Perkasa's Islamic affairs bureau, said Muslims should stay away from Starbucks because its pro-gay rights policy is against Islam and Malaysia's constitution.

Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, but a case before the Constitutional Court is seeking to criminalise gay sex and sex outside marriage.

Gavin Bowring, a Malaysia analyst at risk consulting company Eurasia Group, said the boycott was unlikely to amount to much but reflected "a growing tendency toward conservatism and strict adherence to Islamic principles".

AP

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