Advancing LGBT rights in Malaysia – Jackson YEE CS

Published: May 20, 2014

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Idahot) falls on every year 17th of May.  The purpose of such a day is to raise awareness among the public to the violence and discrimination faced by every single lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) worldwide. In the past one year, what have Malaysia achieved in light of Idahot?

At the beginning of year 2013, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi has described lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders (LGBT) as an illness that can be treated following by at least 21 seminars allegedly held of which the purpose is to curb LGBT “behaviour”. Later,  the Director of Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (Jasa), Datuk Fuad Hassan mentioned that stage theatre is one of the approaches to “curb” LGBT. Remember the Asmara Songsang stage theatre where the actor playing gay repents at the end of the plot.

Further, our Senator, Rohani Abdullah suggested that strict action should be taken against those male actors who wear like a female and insensitively, using the word “pondan”. In July 2013, it was reported that a transgender Thai national was assaulted by a group of youths armed with steel rods and hockey sticks in Kuantan, Pahang for reasons unknown. Does being a transgender warrant such violence?

 

To add salt, Datuk Dr Hasan Ali, the president of Jati alleged that Comango is fighting for LGBT rights thus, “we should raise war against them (Comango).” This is absurd. Comango stands for many other minority rights, however, LGBT rights are one of the easy targets for them. Even when the representative of Comango, Honey Tan invited Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) for discussion, the President, Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman rejected it saying that “Comango is not a registered organisation.. and “All they need to do is to repent”. Not to forget the infamous Isma presumes a person’s sins and acts like the GOD. I suggest a healthy talk and dialogue would rather preferred than laying judgments like a judge. Do think about it, Isma?

This year, Penang turns into a LGBT unfriendly state. Penang Pink Dot 2014 which is scheduled to be held on 29 March was cancelled due to safety concerns on the organizer and the participants. These was resulted as pressures put on the organizer by again the God’s saviour and guardian, ISMA and Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim). It is pertinent to note that the main intention of Penang Pink Dot is to help LGBTs with abuse and discrimination.

On the next month, the proposal to set up a transgender rights committee under Penang state government by YB Teh Yee Cheu was withdrawn after being advised by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. CM appears to be down to earth understanding the daily issues of common citizens, but was not able to understand the importance of such rights committee? The promotional line of “fighting for ALL MALAYSIANS” is merely a rhetorical tagline to garner supports?

Next Thursday, 22 May 2014, the transgender community in Malaysia will be facing one  groundbreaking court case challenging a Sharia law of Negeri Sembilan which prohibits the transgender community from expressing their gender identity. The punishment, if so convicted, is the fine not exceeding RM1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both.

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