Last Update 5:25
Saturday, 25 May 2019

Gay arts festival faces condemnation in Malaysia

Gay activists in Malaysia hold a five-day festival at a private arts centre to counter widespread homophobia, while Muslim non-governmental groups plan to protest the event

AP, Thursday 3 Nov 2011
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1128
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1128

Gay rights activists in Muslim-majority Malaysia are facing mounting pressure to scrap an annual arts festival that aims to fight discrimination. The "Sexual Independence" festival has been held under low-key circumstances in Kuala Lumpur since 2008, but growing awareness about the event is leading to criticism by politicians and religious leaders.

This year's five-day festival — starting Nov. 9 at a private arts centre and themed "Queer Without Fear" — will feature musical performances of "queer anthems sung by fierce local singers and drag divas who know what it means to love out loud and proud," organizers said Thursday.

Media censorship rules forbid movies and song lyrics that promote acceptance of gays, while a decades-old law makes sodomy punishable by 20 years in prison, though it is seldom and selectively enforced.

The festival program also includes talks on sexuality issues, a poster exhibition and a makeup workshop by a drag queen. One session is titled "Defense Against The Dark Arts: Homophobia 101."
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday described the event as "inappropriate," according to the national news agency, Bernama.

"It is a waste of time, even though they can say it is their right" to stage the event, Muhyiddin reportedly said. Several Muslim nongovernment groups planned to protest the festival Friday. Separately, they have also demanded that authorities ban a planned concert by openly gay British star Elton John later this month. The government has yet to respond to those calls.

Gay rights activists 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. Authorities accused him of insulting Islam, though no official action was taken.

Festival spokesman Pang Khee Teik said many Malaysian gays and transsexuals were being forced to "live a lie" because of discrimination. "Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile," Pang said in an online statement posted Thursday. "That is why some of us choose to be open, because it's time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse." The festival's sponsors and supporters include the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International, the country's main grouping of lawyers and other human rights organizations.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.