Police ordered gay rights activists in Malaysia to scrap an annual arts festival aimed at fighting discrimination.
The Sexual Independence festival has been held under low-key circumstances in Kuala Lumpur since 2008, but growing awareness about the event has lead to the usual intolerance from politicians and religious leaders.
This year's five-day festival scheduled to open on 9th November at a private arts center is themed Queer Without Fear . It was to have featured musical performances of queer anthems sung by fierce local singers and drag divas who know
what it means to love out loud and proud, organizers said.
But after whinges by the deputy prime minister and plans by several Muslim groups to protest, police ordered that the event to be canceled.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had described the event as inappropriate and a waste of time, according to Bernama.
The festival's sponsors and supporters included the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International, the country's main grouping of lawyers and other human rights organizations.
Malaysia's Home Ministry has banned the Obedient Wives Club's (OWC) controversial sex guide book with immediate effect. The book was written by Hatijan Aam, who is also the founder of the OWC.
Those found in possession of the reprehensibly titled, Seks Islam, Perangi Yahudi Untuk Kembalikan Seks Islam Kepada Dunia ( Islamic Sex, Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World ) could be fined up to RM5,000 (S$2,000).
Those found reproducing the book for the purpose of offering it for sale could be jailed up to three years or fined not exceeding RM20,000, or both.
The Home Ministry's religious book censor, grandiosely titled, Al-Quran Text and Publishing Control Division Secretary, Abdul Aziz Md Nor, said the book had been banned to the public.
Aziz said the first reason was the book was released by an organisation that had clear links with the banned al-Arqam. As the movement has been banned, anything related to it, such as the club and the book, are also banned. He said the
contents of the book also violated Jakim's Islamic publication material censorship guideline. Based on our investigation and Jakim's findings, we must ban the book, he said.
Two Malaysian states are considering passing laws that could punish gay Muslims and gay rights supporters with prison sentences, a regional minister told AFP.
Homosexuality is against Islam. So that's why we don't want to follow this activity promoted by Western countries, Mohamad Ali Rustam, chief minister of southern Malacca state said: People are talking about human rights, but this is not
right... It's our duty (to stop it) but we cannot take action because there is no law.
State Islamic authorities were considering drafting a new law that could charge in Islamic courts those who engaged in homosexual activities and free sex activities , the minister said, without elaborating further.
The politician is a member of Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling United Malays National Organisation party.
Eastern Pahang state has also reportedly proposed a similar law .
Malaysia's High Court has dismissed a bid by campaigners to challenge a police ban on a gay arts festival, in a rare legal case involving gay rights.
Organizers of the Sexual Independence festival had hoped to overturn a ban imposed last November on the event, which would have featured musical performances, talks on sexuality issues and a poster exhibition. The festival was meant to
promote dialogue about gay issues in Malaysia.
Police ordered activists to scrap the event after Muslim organizations claimed it would disrupt public order.
High Court Judge Rohana Yusuf ruled in favor of government lawyers who said police were empowered to declare the ban.
Festival organizers said they would appeal the verdict.
Malaysia has issued a directive to state-owned TV stations ordering them to ban and remove LGBT characters, and says it will expand the order to privately owned stations,
The Information Department has banned shows featuring gay characters, Deputy Information, Communications and Homophobic Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D'Cruz confirmed. He said the ban was effective immediately but would only start with
state-owned TV and radio stations.
If it means cancelling some of the shows, so be it, he told The Star, adding that the decision was to curb the influence of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
He also said the decision will be expanded to cover privately-owned stations as well as satellite TV providers. As for foreign productions, he said the Censorship Board will remove episodes from running TV shows and bar movies with gay characters
from being screened locally.
The directive appeared on the Information Department Facebook page:
Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now.
In the face of justified criticism of Malaysia's homophobic ban an gays on TV, officials have been blathering about the ban, simultaneously both denying and confirming it.
Malaysia has no plan to ban state media programmes featuring LGBT characters ...BUT... retains the right to select suitable content for the public, officials have 'clarified'.
With the message stirring up a hot debate online, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yaim and his deputy sought to explain the official stance only to cause much more confusion.
There is no ban on any artistic performance by any segment of society, including those acronymed as soft men, Rais wrote on Twitter. The ministry ...HOWEVER... reserves the right to select contents suitable to the general
public since the country is a multi-racial, religious and cultural one, he added.
Rais's deputy Maglin Dennis D'Cruz added to the contradictory government bollox. Whilst onfirming the ban as a mistake, he noted there is indeed a directive and a guideline will be produced to avoid putting LGBT characters on screen or the
Malaysia's religious affairs minister has ordered portraits of LGBT activists to be removed from an arts festival in Penang.
Portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik, who champion the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, were taken down on the orders of Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a minister in the Prime Minister's
Department. Dr Mujahid said promoting LGBT activities was not in line with the new Pakatan Harapan administration's policies. He told reporters at the Parliament lobby: I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures, along with
the rainbow pride flag, in a public gallery.
I contacted the state government to check if the claim is true, and I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia.
Ms Nisha and Mr Pang's portraits were removed from the month-long Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival in Penang. They were portrayed holding the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia's flag, in prints captured by photographer
The exhibition sponsor, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, criticised the decision:
How could this happen in Penang? I expected more from the Penang government. We should be enlightening people, changing their mindsets - not reacting to people who are close-minded.