Malaysia

Police ban ‘Seksualiti Merdeka’ festival

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
November 03, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Police have banned the on-going “Seksualiti Merdeka” festival, deputy inspector-general of police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said today.

The country’s number two top cop was quoted by The Star as saying that police will take strong action against individuals who defied the directive.

Khalid said police will summon festival proponents including former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to record their statements.

“Police will take action under Section 27 A (1) (C) of the Police Act as well as 298 A of the Penal Code to prevent any function relating to the programme,” he said.

He said the law in the country did not recognise any deviationist activity that could destroy the practice of religious freedom.

“Police received many protests from non-governmental organisations including Islamic and non-Islamic organisations who feared that the programme could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order,” he said.

A host of Muslim groups like Perkasa and opposition party PAS have already expressed outrage against “Seksualiti Merdeka”, an annual festival to promote sexuality rights in Malaysia.

Perkasa and several other groups lodged police reports yesterday against the programme which goes on until November 13, and demanded the Inspector-General of Police cancel the event.

The groups’ outrage also earned front-page news in Malay daily Utusan Malaysia yesterday along with articles on PAS’s objection to this month’s concert by singer Elton John, a self-admitted homosexual.

The Bar Council has however defend the festival, and urged the government  to reject discrimination against Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by enacting laws to protect them.

Another group of lawyers- the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers’ Association (PPMM) have called for the Malaysian Bar to retract their statement and cease supporting the festival.

The country’s deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the organisers of the “Seksualiti Merdeka” festival should respect Malaysian culture and laws instead of promoting an event which celebrates homosexuality.

Calling it a “waste of time”, the deputy prime minister said even though the government respected the right of the organisers to hold the event, the festival was “non-beneficial” to Malaysians in general.

The festival’s programme, which includes forums, talks, workshops, book launches, an art exhibition and stage performances has been held without problems since 2008.