Hopes for a “new Malaysia” were kindled by last year’s regime change, but LGBT activists say that, at least for the LGBT community, that hope has turned out to be an illusion.
The Australian public broadcaster SBS reported:
Malaysia’s LGBTQI+ community say government is failing on human rights
Last year, Malaysia’s government changed for the first time in the 61 years since independence.
The shock election result ushered into power the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition for the first time.
Across the country, people celebrated, declaring a ‘new Malaysia’ in anticipation of the wave of institutional reforms and improved human rights promised by the new government.
While the government did not promise anything specific in its election manifesto for the LGBTQI+ community, many had hoped the less conservative political parties and their promises of human rights would bring change.
But almost a year since the election, a series of scandals and comments from senior government ministers have dampened any hope things will improve for the country’s marginalised LGBTQI+ community.
“It’s almost as if they [the government] are begging us not to be too public, they are telling us to stay quiet,” [gay rights activist Pang Khee Teik] told SBS News.
Mr Pang runs an LGBTQI+ online publication and facilitates an online forum with thousands of followers, where Malaysians can come together to share their stories and discuss issues.
The new government has been accused by the conservative opposition of being ‘pro –LGBT’ and have responded by criticising and attacking the community.
A series of events including the police raiding of a gay nightclub in August and the caning of two women for having a same-sex relationship in September, has highlighted the ongoing problems faced by LGBTQI+ Malaysians.
Sodomy remains illegal in Malaysia and [trans activist Nisha Ayub] said the country’s transgender community was still encouraged to go to government-sponsored “conversion therapy” camps.
“Hate crimes are rising in Malaysia against trans people. You have vigilantes going around to basically criminalise trans people. We even have laws specifically for cross-dressing, which applies to transgender people,” she said.
For more information, read the full SBS article, “Malaysia’s LGBTQI+ community say government is failing on human rights.”