LGBT has always been one of the most sensitive topics in Malaysia due to the country’s stance on the matter, and despite being in the “New Malaysia” government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling, the issue is still an ongoing one.
In the most recent case regarding the minor community, photos of LGBT activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik with the country’s flag have been removed from a photography exhibition called the Stripes and Strokes at the annual George Town Festival 2018 in Penang on “instruction”.
This action has shocked Datuk Vinod Sekhar, the President and Group Chief Executive of Petra Group, who is a sponsor for the Stripes and Strokes exhibition, saying that this shouldn’t have happened in the new government ruling.
“Since when did we discriminate against ordinary Malaysians reflecting on their patriotism? For it to happen in Penang is even more ridiculous. This is something that all Malaysians should fight. The moment we give in to narrow-minded insular ignorant hate mongers, then where do we draw the line,” Vinod told Malay Mail.
According to Nisha Ayub, the photo removal happened because people are using her, Pang, and Siti Kasim (a lawyer and activist)’s photos as a political tool to go against the new government. She also noted that the photos were taken last year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence “before the new Government PH”.
“It was a project by a friend to display faces of Malaysian from all backgrounds in conjunction with last year’s Independence Day. It’s not a project by any politician nor goverment,” Nisha expressed her disappointment on her Facebook page.
In another recent post, she said, “I was not at all angry nor worried when they removed the pictures but its the message that is being spread to the public and to all marginalised community in Malaysia that saddens me.”
“They talk about rights as a citizen of Malaysia but yet they are denying people like me to even express our love to our own country. What is happening to our New Malaysia? Is that what we the marginalised community voted for?”
“As a citizen of Malaysia, I want to know the stand of our New Malaysia towards minorities like us . They can burn or even throw my picture but they cannot take my love to my country where I have been living since I was born till today,” she continued.
Penang state exco Chong Eng who is in charge of gender inclusiveness said that she will look into this issue, adding that people should not be discriminated against because of their gender. “We want a resolution on this issue. I want to know who gave the orders and what were the reasons for the portraits to be removed,” she said.