Malaysia

At mosques, strident protests against sexuality festival

By Yow Hong Chieh, Lisa J. Ariffin and and Mohd Farhan Darwis
November 04, 2011
Latest Update: November 05, 2011 12:40 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Within minutes of ending their Friday prayers at the National Mosque here today, Perkasa sounded the clarion call for Muslims to defend their faith being sullied by organisers of a three-year-old sexuality festival.

Springing into action, the vocal Malay rights group’s youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris called on Malays to unite and set aside their political differences to reject homosexuality.

The small group of Perkasa demonstrators outside the National Mosque on November 4, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy MayThe small group of Perkasa demonstrators outside the National Mosque on November 4, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy MayBacked by 30 demonstrators and under the watchful eye of 20 policemen at the mosque compound, Irwan raged against the Malaysian Bar for backing organisers of the Seksualiti Merdeka programme and yelled that lawyers who support Seksualiti Malaysia were not qualified to be called lawyers, drawing the attention from some 30 onlookers.

The small group of demonstrators then crossed Jalan Lembah to the city’s Islamic Development Department (Jakim) office.

Perkasa’s deputy president Datuk Rahman Bakar, who was also present, said they would deliver a memorandum demanding it obtain an immediate court order to stop organisers of the Seksualiti Merdeka programme.

The memo, signed by Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali who was conspicuously absent from today’s protest, read: “We believe what the festival organiser is promoting clears goes against the teachings and demands of Islam. Promotion of this festival has sullied and insulted the purity of Islam.”

Jakim director-general Datuk Che Mat Che Ali who received the memorandum said his agency will investigate the case according to Islamic criminal laws.

He cited Section 35 of the Syariah Criminal Act, for organising vice; and Section 25 and Section 26of the Syariah Criminal Act 559, which deals with homosexuality.

In Shah Alam, an even smaller group of 10 demonstrators made similar demands rallied outside the Selangor state mosque.

Chanting “Allahuakbar”, the protestors held green placards that read in Malay: “Don’t hide behind human rights. Respect our human rights as Muslims in Malaysia” and “Suhakam, don’t be the anti-Islamic enemy’s tool”.

The protestors represented several Islamic groups, namely the Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela) and Majlis Ulama Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Muis), and demanded the Bart Council and the national human rights commissioners resign.

“The indecent behaviour of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community has to stop immediately for it undermines family institutions and destabilises the norms of society,” a man who gave his name as Masridzi Sat told some 30 onlookers.

“This campaign is against the Constitution, against the Penal Code and Syariah law as it calls for fornication which is a sin,” he added.

Seksualiti Merdeka, the movement championing the freedom for sexual orientation and gender identity has been holding the festival yearly since 2008 but sparked a heated debate after the government banned the celebration yesterday.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police were not  against freedom of expression or human rights but had to step in because the festival organiser did not have a permit to hold the festival in public.

Khalid also said police had banned the even to safeguard public order after receiving several reports against the event organiser.

He said the police were investigations the issue under Section 298A of the Penal Code and Section 27A(1)(c) of the Police Act and had linked prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan — who is chief of Bersih 2.0, another outlawed movement — to Seksualiti Merdeka.

Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik said he was saddened by the ban.

“It is not even a gay parade. We are only asking to be accepted by society and that the public hear our side of story,” he said, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities.