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Malaysian LGBT rights activists warn against joining ‘smear campaign’ parade

LGBT rights activists in Malaysia have warned that an 'LGBT not criminals' public parade was not organised by them and might be a fake march publicised as part of a smear campaign from government supporters.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

26th April 2012 01:09

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

The organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka, the sexual minorities festival that was banned in Malaysia last year, have warned their supporters not attend a parade apparently planned for this Friday.

Pang Khee Teik said on Facebook:

‘PLEASE BE INFORMED that a supposed public parade "LGBT Bukan Penjenayah" [LGBT Not Criminals] outside the Bar Council this Fri 27 Apr is NOT organised by Seksualiti Merdeka, nor do we have any knowledge about it. It might be part of the continued smear campaign to make SM appear arrogant and defiant… and to rile up conservatives to think that Malaysia’s burgeoning liberalism is a doorway to decadence… We advise you don’t go.’
A heightening anti-LGBT hysteria, evident at a homophobic rally at a university last Saturday, has been attributed to a smear campaign connecting opposition leaders to LGBT rights.

At Saturday’s rally speakers ranted angrily against leader of the opposition Anwar Ibrahim, as well as former president of the Malaysian Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan and acclaimed Malaysian writer A Samad Said, who both support the anti-corruption demonstrations, Bersih [clean in Malay]. A Bersih demonstration is planned for this Saturday and government supporters may be trying to detract attention from that.

The party that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957 has reason to be nervous that the general election, rumoured to be held in June, will not go well for them. They lost their two-thirds majority in the 2008 general election and the Bersih anti-corruption demonstrations have been popular.
Jerome Kugan, another Seksualiti Merdeka organiser, told Gay Star News:

‘Basically they’re out to demonise us… The discourse that JMM [organisers of the anti-LGT rally] is waging in the media at the moment is being focused very much on what they perceive to be the LGBT community’s tall poppy syndrome, that we’re becoming too brazen and asking for too much.

‘So to have photos of us LGBTs in the media protesting would be exactly what they’re looking for, especially as almost all the Malaysian media are either against the LGBT cause or have been ordered by the Malaysian Home Ministry to only print negative reports about LGBT issues. Those of us in NGOs working with human rights issues recognise this as fear-mongering smear strategies that have been used by the government many times previously.’

Pang published a post on the Seksualiti Merdeka blog today describing Malaysia’s ‘perverted justice’. He said:

‘When the speaker at the Anti-LGBT rally talked about killing whoever he imagined are “the enemy of this land”, and by enemy he implied those who advocate for the human rights of LGBTs, the authorities looked the other way. But when Seksualiti Merdeka appealed for understanding, compassion and equality, it was deemed a threat to the national security and was banned by the police.’

At the Bersih demonstration this Saturday up to 20,000 Malaysians will come out to say it’s time for a change.