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Malaysia Gay Arts Festival Banned, Called Threat to Public Order

Malaysia

The “Sexual Independence” festival, a gay arts festival held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since 2008 aimed at fighting discrimination has been canceled after several Muslim groups said they would protest, the AP reports:

Earlier Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had described the event as “inappropriate” and a “waste of time,” according to Bernama.

Gay rights activists did not immediately respond. Earlier, they had said the festival was meant to counter widespread homophobia in this socially conservative Asian nation, where a young gay man received death threats last year after posting a YouTube clip defending his sexuality.

The festival's sponsors included the Malaysian branch of Amnesty International.

Festival spokesman Pang Khee Teik said, in a statement on the group's website:

"I'm pleased that the police regards Seksualiti Merdeka as important as Bersih that it needs to be similarly banned. We ARE important. And if anything this ban proves why we need to keep fighting for our rights. The rights of innocent people are important. Homophobes and oppressors never like it when we question their right to be homophobic and oppressive. History is against you. The future generation will one day be embarrassed that their forefathers banned us. Meanwhile, we will continue to be fabulous, to love, and to be proud of who we are."


Gay Malaysian Pastor to Wed in NY, Says Government Can't Stop Him

Malaysia's only openly gay pastor, Ouyang Wen Feng, who earlier this month urged gay people in his country to "keep coming out" to combat homophobia, plans to wed in New York on August 31 despite government objections, AFP reports:

Ouyang "Don't I have the right to invite my friends to have meals with me in (a) restaurant in Malaysia?" Ouyang said in an email to AFP over the weekend. "The world is watching. Malaysia cannot afford to jeopardise her image as a moderate country the government is trying to portray," he added.

Homosexuality remains a largely taboo subject in Malaysia, and sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Islamic Affairs minister Jamil Khir Baharom said earlier this month that same-sex marriages, such as Ouyang's, were not allowed under the country's civil laws.

The date Ouyang has chosen is not insignificant. It's Malaysia's National Day, celebrating its independence.


Malaysian Trans Woman Dies After Government Rejects Application to Change Her Gender

Malaysia's trans community is speaking out following the death of Aleesha Farhana, a young Muslim who made headlines after her application to the government to change the gender on her national ID card, Indian Express reports:

Farhana Mohd Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz (25) shot into limelight after the Kuala Terengganu High Court rejected his application to change his gender and name to Aleesha Farhana in the national identity card, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported.

Aziz was admitted to a hospital at Kuala Terengganu, about 500 kilometers northeast of Kuala Lumpur, yesterday after experiencing heart problems and low blood pressure, it said. Doctors said that he was suffering from unstable chest pains associated with heart disease. The youth had undergone a sex change operation in Thailand in 2009.

Free Malaysia Today adds:

The passing of Aleesha Farhana over the weekend has sparked off a call from Malaysia’s trans community for the government and media to end all forms of discrimination against them.

In a statement signed by 17 NGOs and 600 individuals, the trans community condemned [High Court judge, Yazid Mustafa]’s decision as inconsistent with a precedent set in 2005 when a similar application was granted to a mak nyah.

The community said they believe that Aleesha died from severe depression after her application was rejected and urged the court to give her the justice she sought.


Malaysian Women's Minister Says 'Ex-Gay' Camp Violates Law

Yesterday I posted about 66 teen boys who, because of "effeminate mannerisms", were sent to an "ex-gay" camp in Malaysia.

Malaysia's Women's Minister has spoken out about the camp, saying it's unlawful and should be abolished, the BBC reports:

Jalil An education official said the camp was meant to guide the boys back "to a proper path in life".

But the women's minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, said singling out these children based on perceived feminine mannerisms was traumatising and harmful to their mental health. The camp violates the Child Act, which protects children without prejudice, she said.

***

Activists say it is appalling that educators are persecuting children for expressing their personalities and identities. The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality said "corrective boot camps" violate the rights of people who are perceived as different.

"It should be strongly opposed and challenged as it promotes homophobia and prejudice," the group said in a statement.

Previously...
Malaysian Authorities Send 66 Teen Boys to Gay 'Cure' Camp [tr]


Malaysian Authorities Send 66 Teen Boys to Gay 'Cure' Camp

Malaysian authorities have sent 66 boys to a four day reparative therapy camp to "cure" them of the gay, the AP reports:

Malaysia Gay rights advocates decried the measure as a symptom of widespread homophobia in this Muslim-majority country where gay sex is illegal.

The boys between 13 and 17 years old reported Monday for what is officially being called a "self-development course" after their schoolteachers in Terengganu state (in red on map) identified them as students who displayed effeminate mannerisms, said Razali Daud, the state's education director.

They will undergo religious and motivational classes and physical guidance, Razali said. He declined to give further details.

The camp is meant "to guide them back to the right path in life before they reach a point of no return," Razali told The Associated Press. "Such effeminate behavior is unnatural and will affect their studies and their future."

Malaysia sends 66 teen boys to anti-gay counseling [ap]


Malaysian Gay-Themed Film a Box Office Success

Dalam Botol, Malaysia's first gay-themed film, about how one partner's sex change affects a gay relationship (both characters end up unhappy), has turned out to be a major hit, the Guardian reports:

Dalambotol Opening less than a week ago, Dalam Botol (In a Bottle), about a post-op transsexual who comes to realise that she may have been better off as a man, has already earned more than one million ringgit (£206,000) at Malaysian cinemas, easily recouping its production and marketing costs of 970,000 ringgit. Prior to filming, writer and producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman had to submit details to the country's strict censorship board, which nevertheless gave its approval following a couple of amendments.

Malaysian films are not allowed to show support for gay lifestyles: the country still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare. Dalam Botol offers a non-explicit vision of gay romance, featuring heterosexual actors who hug but do not kiss. However Sulaiman told the Associated Press she believed the box office results "prove that Malaysian audiences can handle such movies, that they're more open and not so conservative any more." She added: "I hope it'll inspire more films that are meaningful and linked to the reality of people's lives."

Many in Malaysia's LGBT community do not approve of the film because it depicts the characters as unhappy. Said rights activist Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of the Malaysian sexual rights awareness group Sexuality Independence: "Many of us Malaysian gays, lesbians and transgenders have absolutely no regrets being who we are," 


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