Sex songsang sin 2.0
|Syazwan Zainal is a reluctant law student at The University of Warwick, writer-wannabe, actor-aspirant, professional procrastinator who dreams of winning the Academy Award for Best Actor and Nobel Prize for Literature. He is a fierce idealist and non-conformist and would love to rid the world of football. He also writes for CEKU at www.ceku.org.|
APRIL 18 — Malaysian politicians are distracting the public by scaring us with tales of deviant homosexual behaviour. The scaremongering must stop.
Discussion (given that it is an election year) must immediately revolve around issues that are relevant to the average individual. Having said that, the LGBT issue warrants intellectual discussion in the public sphere and is an issue that Malaysians must confront sooner rather than later.
Magicians the world over are sniggering. They are familiar with the trick the Malaysian government is trying to pull off. It is the oldest trick in the book: distraction.
Flipping through “Berita Harian” and “Utusan Malaysia”, a sense of frustration and annoyance quickly overwhelms me. Ministers and members of parliament seem to think they were elected to worry about what happens in the rakyat’s bedrooms.
Mainstream media takes the bait. They broadcast talks by well-intentioned, non-experts about the possible reasons behind homosexuality. This is driven, at least in part, by a pseudo-scientific study carried out by a member of parliament — thumping his chest, indignant that such “unnatural” acts are happening under his watch.
Suppose three out of every 10 Malaysian is gay. Never mind what his statement entails, with regards to the members of parliament themselves (using his statistics, there should be at least 66 members of the Dewan Rakyat who are homosexuals). The scaremongering should and must stop.
Ladies, gentlemen and everyone else in between, we have seen this before. In 1930s Germany, it was the Jews. Granted this is not quite as acute, but the principle remains the same. States tend to target minorities to become scapegoats in order to distract the public from the more pressing and urgent issues at hand. Minorities in Malaysia, rather than being protected and respected, are discriminated against.
Malaysians, regardless of our political affiliations, we must remind our leaders to stop scaring us with talks of this supposed “homosexual problem.”
It is shameful that certain quarters are willing to resort to violence and coercion to ensure that the minority is suppressed. Reports of violence towards “mak nyahs” (transvestites) are of course a pertinent issue, but inherent discrimination — not just by the state, but also by society at large — is even more worrying.
When members of parliament talk about the possibility of having a camp set up to rehabilitate the LGBT community, one cannot help but feel frightened of the historical echo. Indeed, something similar has been done last year, when the Terengganu Education Department organised a camp for boys who were deemed to be lacking in masculine qualities.
My primary school years were plagued by taunts and insults. Apparently I was a “pondan”, “bapok” and “lembut.” At times it was fairly brutal. It never became physical bullying, but then that’s what made it all the more dangerous — the fact that there was no physical evidence for others to notice the suffering I was going through at the time.
To set up camps for effeminate boys would be to institutionalise the insult.
I suspect I would have suffered even more if the school indirectly said or implied that these insults are reasonable or justifiable. I think the taxpayers’ money would be put to better use by setting up camps for boys who are too masculine (teenage fathers who demand that their partners discard their babies, Mat Rempits, bullies), although I find that abhorrent too.
Let us now turn to the LGBT rights that our politicians are so concerned about. Notwithstanding the fact that most political discussion in Malaysia does not revolve around the pros and cons of a specific policy, but focuses on gossip instead, we need to start having earnest discourse about minority rights in an intellectual, objective and non-emotive manner.
Collectively, we must slap some sense into the state apparatus. So long as one does not murder, rape, commit actual or grievous bodily harm to anyone, enslave individuals (in simple terms: harm others), what one does in the privacy of one’s bedroom is none of our or indeed the state’s business. I say we leave that between them and God.
“But what about dakwah?” you ask. Maybe one feels that it is one’s duty to remind others of the righteous path. Indeed, it is one of the duties incumbent upon Muslims. But therein lies the answer. One can only remind others by persuading individuals logically and with respect. To use coercion and force via the arms of the state is not justified. In fact, I argue that it might backfire.
To force individuals to accept a specific way of life without independent, fully informed consent can only lead to individuals who are not wholehearted in their change. When an opportunity for them to revert back to their original lifestyle comes, the probability of them to take that chance is extremely high.
There are countless examples. For instance, women in Saudi Arabia are obligated to wear the headscarf. But does that mean that they sincerely follow the law? Many of them take off their headscarves the moment they leave the jurisdiction of the country.
There are those who fear that the wrath of God might come upon us if Malaysia were to grant the LGBT community their Constitutional rights. But we must not confuse ourselves with moral duty and state duty.
I argue that these duties are not the same. At a personal level, one may think that there is a moral duty to abhor homosexual relationships but that does not necessarily entail that the state must impose sanctions upon those who engage in homosexual acts.
Given that it is an election year, it is high time for us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves probing questions. We must include all sections of society in this discussion.
Needless to say, the supposedly “unnatural, abhorrent sexual deviants” must be consulted, as well. Are we to be an embracing, accepting and tolerant society? Or one that prefers a monolithic expression of itself, even if it means suppressing the voices of the minorities?
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.