DISCRIMINATION against the LGBT, homophobia – these are accusations heard all too often in Malaysia, a country portrayed abroad by its leaders as a moderate, democratic Muslim nation.
But with civil and religious laws that criminalise homosexual activity and cross-dressing, liberals, activists and members of the LGBT community disagree with this assessment of Malaysia. According to the Human Rights Watch in its World Report for Malaysia, “Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is pervasive in Malaysia.”
Recent events in the nation of over 30 million appear to prove this assertion true. The latest uproar to make headlines is over a competition by the Health Ministry inviting Malaysia’s youths to submit videos in one of three categories: sexual reproduction, cybersex and “gender confusion”.
The contest says each entry must introduce the issue and its consequences as well as suggest prevention methods and ways to control, resolve and seek help for the problem.
Activists in the country are enraged by the third category, which the contest describes further as issues involving the LGBT. The activists argue such a contest would provoke hatred against the LGBT and promote a false understanding of what “gender identity dysphoria” really is.
The ministry has defended its decision, saying the competition was to gather teenagers’ views and enhance their knowledge of healthy lifestyle practices.
The response, however, hasn’t quite been well-received – and Malaysia’s past record of discrimination is the likely reason why.
In this video, we list a few examples of recent LGBT discrimination in Malaysia and seek your thoughts on the matter.