In Malaysia, Obama focuses on LGBT rights

President Barack Obama (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
President Barack Obama (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

President Obama focused attention on the human rights of LGBT Malaysians during his just-ended Asia trip.

While in Malaysia, he met with trans activist Nisha Ayub, who seeks an end to the frequent arrests of trans women.

He also lent tacit support to Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of sodomy.

The Washington Blade reported:

U.S. officials meet jailed Malaysian opposition leader’s family

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

Senior members of the National Security Council on Saturday met with the family of a leading Malaysian opposition figure who is serving a 5-year prison sentence for sodomy. The meeting with former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s family took place in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The meeting coincided with President Obama’s visit to the Southeast Asian country.

Obama on Nov. 20 met with Nisha Ayub of Justice for Sisters, a group that advocates on behalf of transgender Malaysians, and other members of the country’s civil society. The president on the same day told reporters during a press conference with Prime Minister Najib Razak that he raised the country’s human rights record during their meeting.

Nisha Ayub promotes trans rights and trans pride.
Nisha Ayub promotes trans rights and trans pride.

“We talked about the importance of civil society and issues, not just in Malaysia but in the region in general, and how we can promote those values that will encourage continued development and opportunity and prosperity,” said Obama. “I very much appreciate this conversation. I think it was constructive.”

Obama on Sunday during a press conference before returning to the U.S. defended the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade agreement that Malaysian LGBT rights advocates and labor groups in the U.S. and elsewhere have sharply criticized.

For more information, read the full article in the Washington Blade.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.


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