KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has backed Seksualiti Merdeka’s right to express itself but stressed that this did not mean the party supported what the movement stood for.
“The issue here is not whether to support or not to support. The issue is you attack them. That’s something else. Can’t we talk about things in this country?” he told reporters in the Parliament lobby here today.
Anwar (picture) said the authorities should have engaged with Seksualiti Merdeka if they disagreed with its goals rather than use “extreme policing” to clamp down on the sexual rights movement.
He also slammed the Umno-controlled media for demonising Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who had agreed to officiate Seksualiti Merdeka, and claimed the attacks were politically motivated.
“This is what you call the vulnerability of a normal citizen against the entire might of a corrupt government.
“Why do you treat her like a common criminal, harassing her in this manner?” he asked.
Seksualiti Merdeka, a movement championing the freedom for sexual orientation and gender identity, has been holding its festival yearly since 2008 but sparked heated debate after the government banned this year’s 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.
He also said the police had banned the event to safeguard public order after receiving several reports against Seksualiti Merdeka.
Khalid added that 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.
Seksualiti Merdeka’s organisers have called off all public events in the interests of participants’ safety as they seek a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police this week to clarify the festival’s objectives.