Malaysia

Government must stop gay pastor’s marriage, says Utusan

By Melissa Chi
August 15, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — Utusan Malaysia today condemned a Malaysian gay pastor’s planned marriage to his partner, and demanded that the government stop it from happening.

Writing as Awang Selamat, a pseudonym used by the Umno-owned daily’s editors, the paper stressed that Malaysian society’s value system based on religious tolerance could not be compromised.

“Malaysian gay pastor Ou Yang Wen Feng’s attempt to break this value system to marry the same gender in this country has to be opposed. In fact the government has to act to block him.

“Day by day we see various attempts to destroy our value system and Pastor Ou is doing it in the open,” Awang said.

Ou Yang, 41, and his African-American partner are planning to tie the knot at the end of the month in New York and hold a reception later in Malaysia.

Ou Yang, who now serves at the Metropolitan Community Church in New York, said he planned to come back to Malaysia for holidays next year after his wedding to partner Phineas Newborn III, 47, a Broadway musical producer.

He said his “coming out” took place in 2006 after nine years of childless union with his now ex-wife, whom he described as an “angel”. Ou Yang grew up in a conservative Christian family.

Ou Yang, a former columnist with Sin Chew Daily, is currently in Hong Kong promoting his book on homosexuality and Christianity.

Same-sex marriages in New York state became legal on July 24 under the Marriage Equality Act. The new law makes New York the largest state in the US where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed, giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born.

Other states in the US that permit same-sex marriages are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia.

Gays and lesbians’ rights are not recognised in Malaysia. The country retains a colonial-era penal code criminalising sodomy. Social attitudes towards the gay community are also shaped by Islam, the official religion in Malaysia.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is currently facing sodomy charges for the second time in his life. He was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet, and was later convicted and jailed for both offences.

Although being gay is frowned upon in Malaysia as well as in most Asian countries, more homosexuals are coming out in the open.

In a diplomatic note to Washington DC that was leaked by whistleblower site Wikileaks through the Malaysia Today website, US Ambassador James R. Keith had said a recent Cabinet member and some of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s senior aides would have found themselves under investigation for homosexual “behaviour” if the government were on a morals campaign”. 

“His openness will not succeed if the authorities have a strong fortress. If the authorities move aggressively, then such problems can be handled,” Utusan Malaysia said today of the gay pastor’s plans.

The mouthpiece for the largest party in the ruling coalition also blamed the social media network which has also been used to “cultivate a perverse culture” among our youths, saying that “this phenomenon is worrisome”.

“So, Awang is pleading to all parties, Islamic NGOs to look into this issue seriously. Seminars regarding this phenomenon should be organised so a rescue formula will be shaped.

“If in the ‘60s we speak of the incoming flow of the hippie and yellow culture from the West, a more dangerous inflow is now increasingly infiltrating our system. The inflow is trying to break our faith fortress,” the paper said.