Friday, January 13, 2012

Queer Without Fear

It is good to know that Malaysians are not going to submit to those who seek to dominate and bully us! Take the police for example.

First, the police banned the Seksualiti Merdeka program on the flimsiest of grounds. Deputy IGP Khalid Abu Bakar had publicly explained on November 03, 2011 that the country's laws do not recognise any “deviationist activity” that could destroy the practise of religious freedom. He had hinted Seksualiti Merdeka which highlights the plight of a marginalized community as an aberration.

Khalid is either ignorant or plain stupid. Seksualiti Merdeka is an annual festival comprising talks, workshops, literary events, stage performances and an art exhibition focusing on the rights of “people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities”. It is an educational event that serves to inform, instruct and enlighten. If this is what Seksualiti Merdeka is all about, then how can it cause disharmony, enmity, or even threaten national security? It doesn’t make sense.

Second, the police have erred by putting a stop to an event that has been organized since 2008 without trouble. So, why only now? Why wasn’t there a clampdown in 2008? 2009? 2010? Why 2011? Was it because Ambiga.Sreenevasan was to officiate the said event? By doing what they did, the police have shown that they are politicizing Seksualiti Merdeka.

Third, the police have trampled on the rights of a section of Malaysians. Why should we repress the minority? Shouldn’t we acknowledge, if not recognize the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community? Why must we always pander to the disconnected majority? Besides, as Seksualiti Merdeka organizer Pang Khee Teik said “…by demanding that we be shut down, they have shown that they don’t understand the meaning of equality and will compromise the very right they are exercising”.

The Seksualiti Merdeka organizing committee then filed a judicial review against the ban. They are asking that the prohibition be lifted, that it be declared null and void, and that the police give them copies of all reports made against them. 

Irrespective of our sexuality and gender orientation, we should learn to respect each and every human being. Seksualiti Merdeka is about self-determination, empowerment and expression of a block of Malaysians within a rich and diverse tapestry that represents the real 1Malaysia.

Not unsurprisingly, the Attorney-General’s Chambers objected and the leave application for the review was fixed for hearing on February 21, 2012. We must continue to be optimistic. We must believe that a better Malaysia is upon us. We must keep faith.

But the question that we must ask ourselves is: "Why cannot we learn to respect one another?" Sigh!

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