It’s not a pride parade, say organisers

(New Straits Times) – The organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka yesterday claimed that the event was not aimed at promoting homosexuality but to champion rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).

The event’s co-founder, Pang Khee Teik, said it “is not a pride parade” but a series of talks, forums, workshops, art, theatre and music performances, interactive installations, and film screenings organised by a coalition of Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Pang said the event was aimed at stopping discrimination, harassment and violence towards one’s sexual orientation and gender preference.

It is organised by a coalition of Malaysian NGOs including the Malaysian Bar Council, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Empower, PT Foundation, United Nations and Amnesty International.

“We hope to create a platform for the community. Some people say this is Western influenced but that is not true as the LGBT community exists across the world and we even have a small population in our country.”

Pang explained that keeping quiet had not helped the community as many were subjected to high levels of hostility and violence.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said all human beings should be treated equally.

“Individuals have the right to make their own choices in sexual orientation and gender identity in the spirit of equality.”

The Malaysian Bar’s stand is embodied, in particular, in the first three principles of The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, which are; the right to the universal enjoyment of human rights, the rights to equality and non-discrimination and the right to recognition before the law.

“In Malaysia, the LGBT community has long been treated as ‘outsiders’ as they face numerous hardships, including a lack of personal safety due to harassment by civil and Syariah authorities, living in fear of prosecution for the private acts of consenting adults, and constantly facing public discrimination and denigration.”

PT Foundation acting executive director Raymond Tai said their primary focus was on HIV prevention and care and support for the community most affected by HIV.