Malaysia

Marina Mahathir livid over ‘free sex’ slur on Seksualiti Merdeka

Marina (right) looks on as Ambiga speaks during a press conference outside the Tenaganita office, in Petaling Jaya November 7, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiMarina (right) looks on as Ambiga speaks during a press conference outside the Tenaganita office, in Petaling Jaya November 7, 2011. — Picture by Jack OoiPETALING JAYA, Nov 7 — An emotional Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir lashed out today at media reports describing “Seksualiti Merdeka” as a “free sex festival”, and threatened to sue if the matter was not clarified.

She told a media conference that “no words could describe” her anger at hearing the event being described as such on television station TV3 last night, and warned a reporter from the station of consequences if her statement today is misreported.

“I have been looking at your face and we know who you are,” the eldest daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said during the press conference on the front porch of Tenaganita’s headquarters here, visibly shaking with anger.

Marina had turned up at the NGO’s single-storey office on Jalan Gasing this evening to lend support to four fellow human rights activists who were being questioned by police over their involvement in the recently-banned sexuality rights festival.

The four are Seksualiti Merdeka founder Pang Khee Teik, Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan, Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez, and Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah.

“I am here only as a supporter because two years ago, I officiated Seksualiti Merdeka without any incident,” she said.

Marina explained the event was not to promote free sex, but to help the marginalised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community understand their legal rights.

“It is an event to explain and educate them of their rights within the laws, and not outside.

“So I am very angry, very angry, there are no words to describe, at certain parties calling this a free sex festival. You have nothing better to do? Nowhere here is free sex allowed... are you crazy to imagine this?” she charged.

Marina reacted with irritation when a reporter later asked Ambiga if she would continue to her struggle in support of events like Seksualiti Merdeka, and pointed out that the former Bar Council president’s involvement in the event was merely to officiate its opening.

“For the struggle, ask me. I have been defending their (the LGBT community’s) rights for over 20 years now. In fact, I defend the rights of all who have been discriminated [against] — the poor, and everyone else.

“So if there is any discrimination or violence against anyone, I will continue to defend their rights. That’s it. Do you understand?” she said.

Marina then threatened legal action against any media organisation that misreports her statement today.

“I will not discriminate against TV3,” she said.

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

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 organisers did not have a permit to hold the festival in public.

Khalid added the police were investigating the matter under section 298A of the Penal Code and section 27A(1)(c) of the Police Act and had linked Ambiga to the movement.

Malay rights group Perkasa and other Muslim NGOs have held small protests against the event outside mosques in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam, which they said insulted Islam as the religion of the country.

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