We are Malaysian citizens who are being denied our rights to our identity and self-determination. The false allegations and ill-intended remarks made to incite hate towards us are completely unjustified. They have further marginalized a group of Malaysians that have long suffered severe marginalization in society. As a United Nations Human Rights Council member, the Malaysian government should be ashamed for endorsing and encouraging such intimidation and scare tactics.
Articles 8(1), 8(2) and 10 of our Federal Constitution explicitly guarantees equality of all Malaysians before the law, protection to all Malaysians from discrimination on the basis of gender as well as our freedom of speech and association. Furthermore, in response to the complaints on violations of human rights of the LGBTIQ (1) community in Malaysia, the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has affirmed its stand that “all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy their basic rights as human beings” (2) They have also noted that: “… human rights are for all and the LGBT group is not excluded. LGBT must be respected as human beings and their differences cannot be used as reasons to violate their rights. There can be no justifications for acts such as name calling, bullying and infliction of bodily harm against them.” (3)
Seksualiti Merdeka stands for everyone who believes they have a right to make their own decisions over their bodily autonomy and bodily integrity. We firmly oppose all forms of stigma, discrimination, and persecution targeted to interfere and deny our rights to our sexuality. (4) Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of every human being. Its full development depends upon the satisfaction of basic human needs such as the desire for contact, intimacy, emotional expression, pleasure, tenderness, and love.
Sexual rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings. These principles and values are very explicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the United Nations Charter that Malaysia and other countries have signed in order to become members of the United Nations. By signing, Malaysia agreed to the preservation of our humanity as a world of nations and to do all that is necessary to uphold the dignity of every human being. The day Malaysia loses its humanity is the day that all hope for a better Malaysia dies.
The Malaysian government should, in fact, condemn all forms of discrimination, stigmatization and threats of violence and murder in the name of any religion or belief system; and uphold the human rights of the LGBTIQ community and sexual rights as human rights. It is in the protection of the individual’s human rights that community rights are upheld. Clearly, this is what democracy is all about.
The Malaysian government should uphold our right to conduct peaceful forums, workshops and performances. The intimidating displays of hatred and ignorance towards us and calls for us to be shut down demonstrate why we absolutely need a safe space and event like Seksualiti Merdeka. The blanket ban on Seksualiti Merdeka’s programme this year is unprecedented as we have been conducting similar events over the past few years. In the interest of the safety of our participants, we will not proceed with all public events of Seksualiti Merdeka while we seek a meeting with the Inspector General of Police YB Tan Sri Ismail Omar to explain the objectives of Seksualiti Merdeka.
We would also like to express our regret that Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, whose sole role was to officiate the opening in her personal capacity, has been defamed by those who aggressively and violently oppose the protection, respect, promotion and fulfillment of the human rights of the LGBTIQ community in Malaysia.
Finally, we express our heartfelt gratitude to numerous sectors of the Malaysian society who continue to support our work and the right to discuss our human rights issues. We remain committed to creating an enabling environment that will help reduce such unreasonable hostility, such as the incitement of fear and paranoia, caused by the lack of understanding of sexuality issues as human rights issues.
(1) LGBTIQ: Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex and queer.
(4) Declaration adopted in Hong Kong at the 14th World Congress of Sexology, August 26, 1999. See http://worldsexology.org/resources.