LGBT has always been an issue in Malaysia. In February 2018, a Malaysian newspaper published the guideline by JAKIM on how to identify an LGBT person. Some of the listed characteristics are general such as having beard and moustache, wearing tight clothing and wearing branded clothing. Consequently, the guideline was ridiculed by the netizens. Nevertheless, the matter was not politicized, but it has become a laughing stock.
After GE-14, LGBT issue quickly arise when LGBT activist Numan Afifi was appointed as press officer to Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq. Numan was known as the organizer of “Big Gay Iftar”, an open fasting event targeting on the LGBT community. Thus, his appointment received backlash by the members of the public. As an aftermath, he resigned from the position.
Then, another LGBT incident happened while the issue revolving Numan was still fresh within the Malaysians’ mind. Two women were caught in a lesbian act in Terengganu. The state Shariah High Court punished the two women with six strokes of public canning each on top of the RM3,300 fine.
The public canning was widely opposed by several human rights NGOs, calling it a “barbaric” punishment. Despite the opposing voice, the public canning was conducted.
Meanwhile, Minister in Prime Minister’s Office (Religious Affairs) Mujahid Yusof Rawa asked the organiser of George Town Festival to remove two portraits of LGBT icons, Nisha Ayub and Pang Kee Teik. The public response to Mujahid’s decision was split.
As the issue becoming intense, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made it clear that Malaysia will not LGBT and same-sex marriages.
Today, LGBT issue become hot again when Pride flags (rainbow flag symbolising the LGBT movement) were spotted during the Women’s March, which was held in conjunction with the International Women’s Day. It turned out that some people from the LGBT community also participated in the march.
Days before the incident, Tourism Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi denied the existence of LGBT in Malaysia. His remark made headlines worldwide. These incidents are the reason for the LGBT issue to spike again.
Mujahid and Mahathir were quick in addressing the LGBT issue this time. Both are persistent on their stance, Malaysia will not accept LGBT. Will LGBT issue sooth down as quickly as the last time when Tun M made his stern stance on LGBT?