Short history of Russia's diplomatic relations with Malaysia
Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Malaysia were established on April 3, 1967. Malaysia declared its recognition of the Russian Federation as the successor of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991.
Both countries maintain political dialogue, regular exchange of messages at the highest level and between the heads of the foreign ministries on current bilateral issues and the most urgent international problems.
The Rulers of Malaysia had visited Russia several times. Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman was to St.Petersburg in May 1997 on his unofficial visit as well as Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail - in September 2005.
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has been to Malaysia twice in 2003: on an official visit in August and to attend the OIC Summit in October. Vladimir V. Putin participated in the first Russia-ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December 2005 and, as well, had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Badawi.
The Prime Ministers of Malaysia were on official visits in Moscow in 1972 (Tun Abdul Razak), 1979 (Tun Hussein Onn), 1987, 2002 and a working visit to the Khabarovsk Region and Buryatia in 1999 (Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad). At the APEC Summits in Brunei (November 2000) and Shanghai (October 2001) and G8 Summit in Evian (June 2003) there were informal meetings between Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Malaysian Prime Minister (Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad). Current Prime Minister Abdulla Ahmad Badawi was on official visit to Moscow in June 2007 and met V. Putin.
There was very active interaction between foreign ministries of Russia and Malaysia: their heads pay reciprocal official visits, hold bilateral meetings at international foras. According to the Protocol signed in 1987 two foreign ministries hold regular consultations. In July 2006 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey V. Lavrov participated in the 13 th Session of the ARF Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur and had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. Besides, two ministries exchange supports for candidates from Russia and Malaysia to different UN bodies.
Since 1994 a Malaysian citizen, Mr. Teoh Seng Lee, has been carrying out the duties of the Russian Honorary Consul in the states of Penang, Kedah and Perlis.
Maintaining interparliamentary relations the delegations of the Russian State Duma and the Federation Council visited Malaysia in 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005; they participated in the XI Session of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Malaysian Parliament paid an official visit to Moscow in 1991; a delegation of the Malaysia senators headed by the Deputy President of the Senate was to Russia in 2003. In January 2007 the Malaysian delegation had taken part in the 15 th Session of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum held in Moscow. President of Senate of Malaysia paid an official visit to Russia in January 2007. Russian parliamentary delegation participated in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) 28 th General Assembly held in Kuala Lumpur in August 2007.
Cooperation between the ruling political parties of Russia and Malaysia - "United Russia" and UMNO respectively - is actively developing. The delegation of the "United Russia" participated in the 55-th Assembly of UMNO in September 2004. The return visit of the UMNO delegation to Moscow was paid in April 2005 when two parties singed the Protocol of the bilateral cooperation.
Contacts have been established between the highest judicial bodies of the two counties. Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation Viacheslav Lebedev visited Malaysia in April 2001; the visit of Malaysian Chief Justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah was held in June 2001.
The direct links of Russian regions with Malaysia have also been maintained: delegations from the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Khabarovsk Region, Moscow Government repeatedly visited Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia nowadays is one of the main Russia's trading partners in the South East Asia, Russia in its turn is the leading trading partner of Malaysia in the CIS region. The total trade turnover between Russian and Malaysia reached US$ 1,903 bil
in 2007 against US$ 1,133 mil in 2006, with Russian import from Malaysia U$1,462 bil and Russian export to Malaysia U$ 440,1 mil.
Russia's exports is mostly dominated by chemical fertilizers and other chemical products, rolled metals and metal products and less by machines and equipment (mainly spare parts for aircraft equipment). Imports consist of home E&E appliances, palm oil and palm oil products, plastics, cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Palm oil is supplied to Russia in accordance with an agreement on extending Malaysian credit facility signed in Moscow in July 2002 as well as through private channels.
The Russian-Malaysian trade and economic relations are regulated by the Agreement on Economic Cooperation (signed 2000) and Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation (1987) and it were greatly contributed by signing of the protocol on completion of bilateral talks with Malaysia on Russian accession to the WTO (December, 2005). The new trade possibilities arise from signing of the cooperation agreement between Russian and Malaysian Chambers of Commerce in December 2005.
Science and Culture
Both countries pay attention to promotion of scientific and technical ties. A number of talks were held between ministers of science and technology of Russia and Malaysia on a wide scope of joint projects - in August 2000 and March 2002 in Moscow and August 2003 in Kuala Lumpur. The first Malaysian micro satellite was orbited by a Russian launcher in September 2000. In December 2006 the satellite "MEASAT-3" was also launched by a Russian rocket. Under the Russian-Malaysian cooperation project in the space field the launch of the first Malaysian astronaut to the international space station is scheduled in October 2007. Regular contacts have been maintained between Russian and Malaysian specialists in the fields of meteorology, space exploration, Antarctic studies. The latest Russian technologies are presented in Malaysia. Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations of Malaysia is to visit Russia in April 2007.
The Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation between Russia and Malaysia was signed in 2003.
Perspective areas of interaction in the filed of modern information and telecommunication technologies were considered during exchange of visits by representatives of the Ministry of Communication and Informatization of Russia and the Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia of Malaysia. During the Russian President's visit to Malaysia in 2003 an Agreement on Cooperation in the respective field was concluded.
The Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Malaysia paid a visit to Moscow and St.Petersburg in 2000. He held negotiations with Russian agencies and tourist operators on the prospects of increasing tourist and cultural exchange in 2006 in Moscow.
An important component of bilateral cooperation is represented by the educational ties. Now the Russian institutions of higher education (medical) have about 2500 Malaysian students both on government and private basis. There are prospects of further increase of their number thanks to the official recognition by the Malaysian Side of the Russian diplomas in medicine. The Minister of Education of Malaysia was in Moscow in April 2003 to familiarize with higher education opportunities for Malaysians in Russia.
The Russian news agencies "ITAR-TASS" and RIA "Novosti" have established and maintain direct contacts with "Bernama" news agency of Malaysia. RIA "Novosti" and "Bernama" have signed a MoU on cooperation.
The ties between religious organizations of two countries were developed thanks to the visit to Kuala Lumpur in December 2003 by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
The Russian students are constantly participating in the International Public Speaking Contest – Deputy Prime Minister's Trophy. In March 2007 student of the Asia and Africa Institute of the Moscow State University won the 1 st place in the above mentioned contest.
IntanParamaditha is currently working on her dissertation, �The Wild Child�s Desire: Cinema, Sexual Politics, and the Experimental Nation in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia.�
She is a recipient of the 2013-2014 Mellon/ ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and her research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council-International Dissertation Research Fellowship and American Association of University Women International Fellowship. She received her B.A. (University of Indonesia) and M.A. (University of California San Diego, with a Fulbright scholarship) in English Literature.
Her research interests include gender/sexuality, cultural policy and activism, nation and transnationalism, secularism and religion, and Southeast Asian cinema. Outside of academia, she has published two collections of short stories in Indonesian language. She has also been involved in the theater production of GoyangPenasaran(The Obsessive Twist), a play on sexuality, politics, and religion in contemporary Indonesia, as writer and producer. For further information on her academic and artistic projects see http://intanparamaditha.org/JOURNAL ARTICLES
Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)
Malaysia's state-run television network has banned gays and transvestites from appearing on its programs, the Star newspaper said. Information Minister Mohamed Rahmat said the action had been taken "in line with the national policy which focuses on the importance of health and family values."
"Any artiste who is proven to be a gay will come under the ban. We do not want to encourage any form of homosexuality in our society," Mohamed was quoted as telling reporters after launching the Malaysian Rice Festival.
Mohamed's ministry controls Radio and Television Malaysia, which operates two of Malaysia's three TV channels. The other channel is run by Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd, a publicly listed company."
Forty-five transvestites were tried in an Islamic court May 19 following a police raid of a drag beauty pageant held in Alor Star, the capital of the Malaysian state of Kedah. Fifty crossdressers had been vying for a title for the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle before some 300 guests in the Kedah Indian Association hall when police burst in and arrested all the contestants.
Five non-Muslims were released, but the rest were charged with wearing female clothes and posing as women in a public place, charges carrying maximum penalties of 160-pounds fine and six months' incarceration. After this week's hearing, 34 contestants were released on bail, while the other 11 remain behind bars. Despite Islam's severe restrictions against homosexual behavior, a 1996 study of more than 1,000 young men aged 15 - 21 years found that one-fifth had engaged in sex with another male.
An antihomosexual movement gave itself an official launch Wednesday in this predominantly Muslim country, which is still embroiled in the case of sodomy charges leveled against former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
But top officials of the People's Anti-Homosexual Voluntary Movement, who are also members of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), denied the movement is targeting any particular personality.
"Our aim is sincere. This is not politically motivated," said the movement's chairman, Ibrahim Ali, an UMNO Supreme Council member and staunch supporter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Deputy Chairman Tamrin Ghafar said, "This has nothing to do with recent developments. It is just that homosexual activities have been around for a long time but never been so widespread and open."
Anwar has pleaded not guilty to the five sodomy charges and five corruption charges he is facing, saying they are part of a conspiracy to topple him.
Sodomy is a criminal offense in Malaysia punishable with a jail term of up to 20 years, as well as by lashing.
Last month Mahathir's open remarks against the alleged sodomy acts of Anwar and against gays in general provoked the ire of a Philippine gay rights group, which accused Mahathir of "fanning antigay hatred."
The Progressive Organization of Gays, in a statement headlined "We are here, we're queer, we will dump Mahathir," demanded that Mahathir issue a formal apology to all sexual minorities and renounce his "antigay machinations."
Abdul Kadir Che Kob describes homosexuals as "shameless people" and homosexuality as a "sin worse than murder." Abdul Kadir is head of education and research at Malaysia’s Islamic Affairs Department, which operates as the morality police with 50 enforcement officers across the country. These officers are empowered to arrest Muslims — including unmarried couples, homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals — suspected of breaking Islamic laws. Last year, 111 men were arrested in Kuala Lumpur for "attempting to commit homosexual acts." Abdul Kadir spoke recently to TIME contributor Mageswary Ramakrishnan. Excerpts:
TIME: How does Islam perceive homosexuality?
Abdul Kadir: Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. It is a crime worse than murder.
TIME: What do you think of homosexuals?
Abdul Kadir: They are shameless people.
TIME: Can it be wrong for two people to be in love?
Abdul Kadir: Love? How can men have sex with men? God did not make them this way. This is all Western influence — and the gay people expect us to be open- minded?
Any gay British minister taking their male partner to Malaysia would be thrown out of the country, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has warned.
The veteran leader, whose former deputy Anwar Ibrahim was jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption, said it was unacceptable in his country for a minister to be homosexual even if it was accepted elsewhere.
Dr Mahathir told BBC Radio 4's Today programme other nations might have gay ministers because there was a difference in values.
"British people accept homosexual ministers but if they ever come here bringing their boyfriend along, we will throw them out."
Mr Tatchell said he was not aware of the ban on visiting politicians but was not surprised.
"In Malaysia, a consenting gay relationship is punishable by up to 20 years jail plus flogging and this is probably one of the harshest penalties for gay relations anywhere in the world."
Mr Tatchell, of gay rights direct action group OutRage. said the issue had to be seen as just one fragment of human rights abuses in Malaysia.
Brian Coleman, the Conservative spokesman on equalities on the Greater London Assembly Member, registered his protest at Mr Mahatir's remarks by tearing up his ticket for an event hosted by the Malaysian culture minister on Wednesday.
A nationally televised speech marking Malaysia’s national holiday by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was riddled with anti-gay epithets and threats.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 300,000 following a massive parade in the capital, and broadcast live throughout the country, Mahathir said Malaysia’s achievements proved its policies worked. He then claimed that foreign powers were trying dominate weak countries and warned that Western influences threatened Malaysia’s traditional values.
“Western films idolize sex, violence, murders and wars,” said Mahathir, a critic of U.S.-led globalization. “Now they permit homosexual practices and accept religious leaders with openly gay lifestyles.”
“They are very angry—especially their reporters, many of whom are homos—when we take legal action against these practices,” Mahathir said.
Same-sex acts in Malaysia are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a flogging.
Mahathir warned that “if there are any homosexuals in Malaysia they had better mend their ways,” or face the maximum prison terms.
Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has won his final appeal against a conviction for sodomy in Malaysia’s highest court.
Anwar who has been in jail for nearly 6 years was set to walk free today.
The Federal Court had ruled that the High Court which convicted Anwar, misdirected itself.
The head judge of a 3-judge bench said that Anwar should have been acquitted and therefore allowed the sentence and conviction to be set aside.
Former opposition politician Chandra Muzafa says the ruling asserts the Malaysian legal process.
“I’m happy that the highest court in the land has overturned the decisions made by the lower courts. It’s a victory of justice. My own reading of Anwar’s release is this – that the major institutions of governance in the country are slowly beginning to operate the way they should”
So what led to the court to approve the appeal?
Former Malaysian Member of Parliament, Mr James Wong says that the Federal Court found the evidence for the charges inconsistent.
“Of course this is a court decision based on legal reasoning. One of the witnesses, the key witnesses, changed his testimony. Material evidence followed by the dates of the alleged sodomy – they changed it 3 times. Because of that inconsistency, the benefit of the doubt was given to Anwar”
The Malaysian navy has made it clear that homosexuals will not be admitted into its fold.
Commenting on a report yesterday on the British navy recruiting gays, Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said the country’s laws were clearly against unnatural sexual acts.
“We do not condone such unnatural sex acts,” the New Straits Times quoted him as saying at a function in Kuala Lumpur.
Britain’s Royal Navy was reported to have signed an agreement with lobby group Stonewall to promote homosexual rights.
Britain lifted its ban on homosexuals serving in the military in 2000 following a European court ruling that the exclusion was unlawful.
“The RMN will never accept homosexuals as we have to protect the image of the navy,” the RMN chief said.
Gay people should not govern mostly Muslim Malaysia, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said in a court filing, challenging a lawsuit by his former deputy who was sacked amid allegations of sodomy. "I strongly believe we cannot have a prime minister who is homosexual," Mahathir said in the 48-page statement seen Saturday by the Associated Press in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. "Malaysia is officially an Islamic country."
Mahathir fired his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, in 1998, alleging he was involved in corruption and had engaged in sodomy, an illegal act in Malaysia, after Anwar publicly denounced Mahathir's economic policies during the Asian financial crisis. Anwar was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of corruption and sodomy that year. A successful appeal in Malaysia's top court against the sodomy conviction set him free in 2004.
According to the statement, Mahathir said he knew his former deputy was gay because Anwar's speechwriter, Munawar Ahmad Anees, admitted in court that he had engaged in sodomy with Anwar. Munawar served six months in prison for the crime.
Malaysia's Islamist opposition party on Monday demanded that authorities cancel a planned concert by U.S. glam rocker Adam Lambert that they say is promoting "gay culture" in the mainly Muslim country.
The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has also threatened to call "as many of its members and supporters" to proselytize to concert-goers if the performance by the former "American Idol" runner-up goes ahead on Thursday, a party official said.
"Adam Lambert's shows. are outrageous, with lewd dancing and a gay performance that includes kissing male dancers, this is not good for people in our country," said PAS Youth leader Nasrudin Hasan. Homosexual sex is a criminal offence in Malaysia.
PAS is Malaysia's second-largest political party with close to a million members
From outside, nobody would suspect that two shophouses without signboards in Jalan Kampung Pantai and Lorong Hang Jebat near Jonker Street here were allegedly spas for gays.
More than 30 men, aged between 20 and 50, were caught partially or totally naked in a raid on the illegal spas last Friday.
The raid was conducted by officers of the Foreign Student and Workforce Division (FSWD) of the Chief Minister's Department, Immigration Department, Melaka Tengah district police headquarters, state Islamic Department (Jaim) and Malacca Historical City Council.
"We conducted surveillance on both centres for about a week. "During the raid at 9pm, we found most of the men in both spas clad in towels. Some of them were also found naked in one of the spas' open shower area," he said, after the operation at Jalan Kilang, Melaka Tengah here.
The raiding party also checked two pubs and two budget hotels in the Melaka Tengah area. An unmarried Muslim couple, both aged 18, were detained by Jaim when they were found in a room.
Ismail, who lives in Malaysia, has angered conservative Malay Muslims who accuse him of insulting Islam. The clip, which has been viewed over 140,000 times since it was put up six days ago, has received over three thousand comments – some of which contain death threats. The site has now closed the facility to leave comments.
The video is part of a gay rights project that encourages gay Malaysians to be confident in coming out. While a group of gay activists have posted up similar videos, it is thought Ismail’s clip has garnered more attention as he is the only Malay Muslim featured.
Harussani Zakaria, an Islamic cleric, has said that Ismail should not have posted the revealing clip as it: “derided his own dignity and Islam in general”.
Ismail has admitted that he is now afraid to go out alone, and avoids spending time in public places saying, “I don’t know what to expect next.” He told The Associated Press, “My intention was not to insult Islam. I just wanted to represent gay Malays in this project. I hope these videos will help to create a more open society.”
The series of videos have been compared to the “It Gets Better Project” which started in the US two months ago following a number of young gay suicides.
Last weekend Malaysia’s minister for Islamic affairs, Jamil Baharom, said he feared gay activists tried to encourage homosexuality and stated that the YouTube post “would hurt Islam’s image”.
Lady GaGa's 'Born This Way' has been banned by Malaysian radio stations for its pro-gay lyrics.
Parts of the song have been dubbed over with an indecipherable noise for its radio edit in the predominantly Muslim country after they were deemed "offensive" when viewed against Malaysians' religious beliefs.
One of the lyrics which has been omitted is: "No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track baby."
A spokesperson for Amp Radio told The AP: "The particular lyrics in 'Born This Way' may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia's social and religious observances.
"The issue of being gay, lesbian or [bisexual] is still considered as a 'taboo' by general Malaysians."
Malaysian authorities have sent 66 Muslim schoolboys whom they consider effeminate to a four-day camp where they will receive counseling on masculine behavior.
The education director of a northeastern state in this Muslim-majority country says the measure is meant to help prevent the teens from potentially becoming gay or transvestites.
Gay rights advocates criticized the effort Tuesday and called it a sign of homophobia.
Education official Razali Daud says the boys reported Monday for what is officially being called a "self-development course" after their schoolteachers identified them as students who displayed effeminate mannerisms.
TAWAU: A man and a woman whom he claimed is his second wife were among the couples caught during an operation here on Tuesday.
Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS) officers decided to haul the couple in after the woman was found half naked hiding under a bed of a lodging house in town.
During the operation, two Muslim couples were caught for close proximity. Several transvestites were also rounded up and five other foreigners who did not possess identification documents were apprehended.
The detainees aged between 17 and in their 30 were roped from entertainment premises, lodging houses and low budget hotels.
Tawau Municipal Council (TMC) operation chief Azinun Sanarul said the operation from 10pm to 2am was carried out jointly with the police to curb vice, immoral and criminal activities.
During the operation, an entertainment spot was ordered closed for violating the licence and several equipment were confiscated.
“We want people, including businessmen, to realize that all regulations must be observed. If they refuse, they face legal action,” he said.
A court in Muslim-majority Malaysia rejected a bid on Monday by a transsexual to change her name after undergoing a sex-change operation to be become a woman.
A high court in conservative eastern Terengganu state ruled that a person’s sex was determined at birth so Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz could not change the name on her identity card, her lawyer said.
“I fear for her… the difficulties she is going to face daily,” lawyer Horley Isaacs told AFP. “What is this person going to do now? Can she go to a man’s toilet?”
Isaacs said Ashraf Hafiz, a 25-year-old former pharmaceutical assistant, was born with an abnormally small penis and underwent a full sex-change operation in neighboring Thailand in 2008.
Isaacs said Ashraf Hafiz’s family supported her application to change her name on her identity card to Aleeshya Farhana, but the National Registration Department had rejected it.
“According to her mother, right from when she was a child her characteristics were feminine. She was all prim and proper,” he said.
Isaacs said in recent years only two other transsexuals have filed court petitions to be allowed name changes. One of the applicants, in 2005, was successful.
Angela M. Kuga Thas, who works with transgendered people, said activists estimate there are some 50,000 transsexuals in Malaysia, but few dare to come forward.
Transsexuals and other transgendered people face daily discrimination and harassment in Malaysia, and many of them are forced to earn their living as sex workers because they cannot get any other job.
Islamic laws, which apply to the Muslims who make up 60 percent of Malaysia’s population, make it an offense for men to pose as women in public, with punishment stretching to several years in jail in some states.
Kuga Thas said discrimination had become worse as the country’s leaders emphasized the importance of Islam and Islamic officials enforced laws more zealously.
“With the rising consciousness of a more Islamic way of being in Malaysia, this has created a lot of complexities, and it has encouraged a lot of stigma and discrimination against people who don’t share the same belief system,” she said.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A gay Malaysian pastor who plans to marry his American partner in New York has pledged to throw a wedding banquet in his home country despite stern criticism by Muslim politicians.
The Rev. Ouyang Wen Feng told The Associated Press that he hopes more Malaysians will "speak up for gay people."
Several government leaders and state-linked media in Muslim-majority Malaysia have criticized Ouyang in recent days.
Islamic Affairs Minister Jamil Khir Baharom said authorities were concerned that Ouyang was advocating "extremism."
Ouyang said in an email to the AP on Tuesday that he plans to "have a wedding banquet in Kuala Lumpur next year."
He moved to the United States in 1998 to study theology. He was ordained a minister four years ago.
Members of an opposition Islamic party call on Muslim-majority Malaysia to ban next month's concert by Elton John, saying Tuesday that the gay singer promotes "hedonism"
Shahril Azman Abdul Halim Al-Hafiz, an official with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), said the concert by singer Elton John at the Genting Highlands resort on Nov. 22 would corrupt young Muslims because of John's homosexuality.
"It's not good. In Islam homosexuality is forbidden," he told AFP. "What he is doing is hedonism. Hedonism is not good in Islam."
The British singer is openly gay, marrying his partner in 2005 after same-sex unions were legalised in Britain.
Shahril is the chairman of the PAS youth wing of eastern Pahang state. The casino resort lies on the border of the state, about an hour's drive from the capital Kuala Lumpur.
An official from concert promoter Tune Live declined to comment.
Despite Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak promoting the country as a symbol of moderation and a cultural melting pot, an Islamic group in the country has called for a planned Elton John concert to be banned over the iconic singer’s sexuality.
John, who is widely popular in Malaysia, is scheduled to perform on Thursday at a resort outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.
But the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is lashing out and saying it is “immoral” for the country to host an openly gay performer in the country.
“This concert must be cancelled. Artists who are involved in gay and lesbian activities must not be allowed to perform in Malaysia as they will promote the wrong values,” Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, chief of the youth wing, was quoted as saying by local media.
Police ordered gay rights activists in Muslim-majority Malaysia on Thursday to scrap an annual arts festival aimed at fighting discrimination.
The "Sexual Independence" festival has been held under low-key circumstances in Kuala Lumpur since 2008, but growing awareness about the event has lead to criticism by politicians and religious leaders.
This year's five-day festival — starting Nov. 9 at a private arts center and themed "Queer Without Fear" — featured planned 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.
But after criticism by the deputy prime minister and plans by several Muslim nongovernment groups to protest, police ordered the event to be canceled.
Authorities will "prevent any function relating to the program," deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement run by national Bernama news agency and confirmed by police representatives.
Many organizations "feared the program could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order," Khalid said.
Earlier Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had described the event as "inappropriate" and a "waste of time," according to Bernama.
Gay rights activists did not immediately respond. Earlier, they had 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.
"Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile. it's time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse," festival spokesman Pang Khee Teik said in an online statement posted Thursday before the event was banned.
This year's program also included plans for 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."
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's sponsors and supporters included the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International, the country's main grouping of lawyers and other human rights organizations.
A Malaysian court on Thursday rejected a petition by gay rights activists to review a police ban on its arts and music festival in Kuala Lumpur.
High Court Judge Rohana Yusuf said the police were entitled to order the ban on the festival called Seksualiti Merdeka, meaning sexuality independence, which was to have been held in November.
The police banned the festival on safety grounds after Muslim groups threatened to disrupt the event which aimed to promote dialogue about gay issues.
The organizers challenged the ban in the court in January.
Pang Kee Teik, one of the organizers of the event, lamented the decision of the court.
“When the police’s arbitrary powers cannot be reviewed in court, we are allowing the police to get away with abuse of power,” he said in a statement.
Malaysia LGBT rights activists have cited security concerns for their reasoning for not holding a demonstration on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) in the country this coming week.
“It is a sad time for the LGBT community in Malaysia, but we hope to hold other events in the future to promote tolerance and understanding,” one organizer told Bikyamasr.com on Sunday.
The international rally against homophobia and transphobia is an international event and will be held across the world on Thursday May 17, with events already scheduled in the Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Morocco, China and for the first time in Burma, as well as other countries.
But the organizers of Seksualiti Merdeka, the sexual minorities festival that was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, 2009 and 2010, but was banned by police last year, have decided that in the current political climate in Malaysia it would be unwise to hold an LGBT rally.
“Seksualiti Merdeka has decided not to organize an IDAHO event in Malaysia at the moment because of security concerns,’ Jerome Kugan, one of the organizers of the festival, told Gay Star News.
Kugan said that since the banning of Seksualiti Merdeka last November “there has been a rising wave of threats made against the LGBT community by the government and certain religious organizations, including an anti-LGBT rally held at a local university recently.”
Although Kugan said the situation for LGBT people in Malaysia shouldn’t be exaggerated and the country is “still largely peaceful and tolerant of LGBTs” following allegations of police brutality at a recent pro-democracy and anti-corruption rally, Bersih 3.0, they have have decided to support IDAHO online only.
Seksualiti Merdeka organisers are attending Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week next week, joining forces with LGBT rights groups in the other South East Asian nations.
Gay television characters can be a mode to tolerance and understanding, say Malaysia’s LGBT community. But the government disagrees, and they barred gay television characters from being shown on the country’s airwaves last month, in a move that has activists frustrated that the government is pushing the conservative tide against the community.
The ban became effective immediately with state-owned TV and radio stations, he said. No specifics about which shows will be affected were revealed, but the ban will likely be expanded to cover privately-owned stations as well as satellite TV providers.
“If it means canceling some of the shows, so be it,” he said. The decision was to curb the “influence” of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, he added.
As for foreign productions, he said the Censorship Board will remove indivudual episodes from current TV shows and bar movies with gay characters from being screened locally.
“Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now,” said the directive.
That could mean any television show that has an inkling of “gayness” would be removed from Malaysian television, which has sparked controversy on censorship in the country and the future of the LGBT community.
Suzie* is a lesbian. A Malaysian lesbian. Yet she struggles with her daily life. When she speaks openly about her life, many accuse her of trying to “convert” other girls to being gay.
“It’s daily, people will ask me what it is like to be a lesbian in Malaysia and I tell them,” she began, sitting in her recently pressed business attire ready for work. “But then they accuse me of trying to convert other girls, just so I can sleep with them. It is ridiculous,” she told Bikyamasr.com.
But the Malaysian government agrees with the naysayers and for the 27-year-old manager at a local advertising company, it is making life difficult.
“It is hard to be open when all eyes are on us all the time,” she added.
Making matters harder for the LGBT community and the likes of Suzie is The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), which has announced it is monitoring organisations that are trying to influence teenagers towards free sex and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) activities.
It said that it would ensure that “appropriate actions can be taken” against the community.
“It’s a bunch of hate and lies. We are regular Malaysians and it is time for people to understand this. We aren’t out to sleep with your girlfriends, or your daughters. Come on, this is crazy,” added Suzie.
JAKIM director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha, disagreed, saying the organisations were using social media including blogs to “influence teenagers to support the LGBT movement in the country.
“Based on our initial investigation, there are blogs that are trying to influence youngsters to get involved in LGBT activities. About 3,000 fans are surfing such blogs,” he told reporters at the “Ramah Mesra” program with the Orang Asli community in Sungai Rual, and was launched by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He added that JAKIM would be collaborating with other relevant authorities including the police, State Islamic Religious Departments and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on the matter.
Othman also advised teenagers to stay away from LGBT activities and urged parents to monitor their children’s movements to ensure that they would not be trapped in the negative culture.
A government-endorsed parenting guide that describes symptoms of homosexuality has kicked up a storm on the Internet, with human rights and sexuality activists expressing shock and disgust.
Sin Chew Daily today reported that the Education Ministry had endorsed the guide as helpful to parents and teachers.
It was launched during a seminar in Penang yesterday. The event, billed as “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)”, was officiated by Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi. The guide listed four symptoms each for gays and lesbians:
When asked to comment, activist and Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik initially said: “I don’t even know how to respond.”
However, he proceeded to flay the Education Ministry for being “only interested in teaching hate, promoting inequality and playing politics”.
“The Ministry of Education is now officially a bully,” he said. “I never presumed to be in the position to teach the meaning of education to the people running the Ministry of Education. But it has come to that.”
He said education should be used to provide equal opportunity and the realisation of the human potential to collaborate with one another in building a better world.
Pang, who is openly gay, said that studies around the world had proven that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would harm individuals as well as society.
“Many of these studies originate in countries which have made such mistakes in their past and who are desperately now trying to undo the wounds that discriminatory policies had left on the psyche of their people,” he said.
He said the ministry should instead pay heed to such LGBT issues as suicide, forced marriages, depression and bullying. “It must stop this inhuman campaign against vulnerable children,” he said. “It should teach all children to be confident and to respect each other no matter who they are.”
Pang offered to provide guidance to “poorly educated” education officials through his organisation.
“It’s not too late. There are a few good books and studies out there they could read instead of relying on pseudo-experts and quacks.”
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri of Lawyers for Liberty said the Education Ministry’s campaign was absurd.
“I don’t see why they are doing this,” she said. “This group is already being persecuted and intimidated. And now they are trying to expose people and continue to attack them instead of trying to understand the whole problem. They are forgetting human rights.
Four Malaysian Muslim transsexuals on Thursday lost a landmark case challenging an Islamic law that bars them from dressing as women, activists said.
The case was the first attempt to overturn the prohibition on cross-dressing in the conservative, Muslim-majority nation where homosexuality and transsexual lifestyles remain taboo.
The High Court in Seremban, just south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, dismissed the challenge mounted by the four that Sharia, or religious law, in the state infringed on their constitutional right of non-discrimination.
Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist who helped them bring the case to court, said the judge refused to overrule the ban. Malaysia has a dual-track legal system with Sharia courts administering certain matters for Muslims.
“The (judge) said they are born male, they are still male and so the law applies to them. She said cross dressing is condemned in Islam,” she told AFP.
“It shows if you are Muslim, it's difficult to challenge anything in this country,” she said, adding that the four were considering whether to appeal.
“They are disappointed. We are all quite shocked by the ruling.” The case was lodged by Juzaili Khamis, 24, Shukor Jani, 25, Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, 27, and Adam Shazrul Yusoff, 25, who work as bridal make-up artists and typically dress as women.
All have previously been arrested for cross-dressing under Islamic law -- administered by state authorities -- which bars Muslim men from dressing or posing as women.
Juzaili and Shukor currently face charges in court and if convicted, they face up to six months in jail.
Last year, another High Court rejected a bid by a transsexual to change the name registered on her identity card after undergoing a sex-change operation to become a woman.
The 25-year-old former pharmaceutical assistant died weeks later, reportedly of heart problems.
Sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison in Malaysia. Transsexuals are a marginalised community and many become sex workers after being shut out of other employment opportunities.
A government-backed musical in Malaysia that aims to warn young people about the perils of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in this Muslim-majority country has sparked controversy over its "state-sponsored bigotry" and potential to incite hatred.
Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) follows the lives of three LGBT friends who throw loud parties, take drugs and have casual sex, thereby incurring the wrath of their religious neighbours, who attempt to reintroduce them to the teachings of Islam. Those who repent are spared, while those who don't are killed in a lightning storm.
Rahman Adam, 73, who wrote and directed the musical, said his aim was "to educate the youngsters and their parents [on] the bad things about LGBT".
"Nowadays in Malaysia you read so many things in newspaper articles or write-ups about LGBT … because [LGBT] are going into schools and influencing the children," he said. "Children need to recognise that men are for women, and women are for men. They [LGBT] are all out to have homosexual and lesbian sex, and although right now it is not so serious [in Malaysia], we need to act, to do something, to say something, to say that this is bad and not to follow it."
The musical features some of Malaysia's most famous TV actors and opened this month at the national theatre in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. It has since toured schools, universities and teacher-training colleges – with free tickets provided.
Malaysia is no stranger to anti-LGBT sentiment. In 2011, the government set up a camp to "correct the effeminate behaviour" of schoolboys and last year endorsed a how-to guide for recognising gay and lesbian "symptoms" in youth.
This year, it is running parenting workshops on curbing LGBT behaviour, presided over by the deputy education minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who has called LGBT "a social illness" and warned: "Just like drugs, a lack of awareness will cause LGBT to spread." Adam's musical – which ends with the cast singing the incumbent government's anthem for national unity – has hit the stage at an interesting time in Malaysia. General elections must be held by June, and the ruling Barisan Nasional, which has presided over the country for nearly 60 years, stands to lose its hold on power. The opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has faced sodomy charges twice in the past 15 years, allegations he says were politically motivated. While Adam insists most of the press his musical has received has been positive, its anti-LGBT message has incurred the wrath of some audience members and human-rights groups, who say it only serves to incite hatred in a nation where LGBT rights still go largely unrecognised.
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