The LGBT committee has always been projected upon stereotypes. LGBT has been known to us for millennials, who they are and what they stand for is loud and proud. They have been partially accepted by segments of the general community, but have been apparently rejected by the Malaysian government.
Lionel Lim, carries the “I Accept” card right in front of the Guan Di Temple located at Petaling Street.
A group of people were set out to do a social experiment, to establish whether people accept LGBT or whether they do not. Those who accepted stated reasons why they do, and it’s the same for those who weren’t in acceptance to it.
The community they reached out to have mentioned various reasonings behind why they accept and reject LGBT. A person working at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Sanjeet, quotes, “regardless of a person’s sexuality, they should all be respected equally as we are all beings of god, and we are all meant to be created equal. People who do not accept them as they are, as how they were born, can never provide proper response towards why it’s not okay to be as they are.”
Bystanders look at Anonymous as he holds the card at the KLCC Suria Park.
For religious groups, the viewpoint of LGBT has always been seen with a set of negative connotations. Muslims at a young age are always taught in religion classes about prophet Lut, who was brought down to Earth to teach people the right ways, and to never involve themselves in “unnatural desires”. With that, people to this date still are faithful to those words and implement it into their daily lives as a principle.
However, according to Joseph Goh, a researcher of gender and sexuality, he has said that we were constructed to have our gender roles and that through religion as covered earlier, people have been made to think we cannot go out of our “assigned genders”. But as we progress more into modernization, leeways of acceptance has slowly come in with each removal of old traditions into our lives.
The “I Accept” card being held in front of the Prime Minister wall at Dataran Merdeka.
The Malaysian government has always been rejecting the consideration of allowing the LGBT community basic rights. One of the main reasons would be because of the Shariah Court and Islam being the established religion of state despite the constitution granting religious freedom.
The general community of the country is also something to be blamed upon towards why the idea of LGBT has yet to be accepted as a norm. A former press officer of Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq, and a man named Numan Afifi Saadan, was forced to resign due to the allegations by the nation that he is an openly homosexual man and that he had done activism for LGBT rights in the past. The people insisted that it was inappropriate for an “LGBT champion” to be a staff of government.
This has caused many queer people feeling that their future is bleak, due to some expressing that they voted for the new government in the hopes that they receive the recognition they deserve and create a safer space for them within the general community. Instead, they are beginning to raise questions on whether or not their decision was right, causing some to consider leaving the country for fear of life-threatening risks.
A man poses with the “I Accept” card on the River of Life bridge, contrasting the PDRM building.
“Malaysia has been subjected by the human rights watch to have the most discriminative laws against transgender people because of the Syariah law,” stated by prominent transgender rights activist, Nisha Ayub. Nisha Ayub, who is a Malay Muslim transgender woman, has dealt with great prejudice and discrimination from her friends and family, as well as the society. “Because of our visibility, we become more vulnerable towards all these hate crimes whether it’s from the government, society or just people.”she explained, in contrast of the how the appearance of a trans individual are often judged. “ I was placed into a male prison and I have experienced sexual abuse as well as verbal abuse. I was put in prison because of my gender identity, by the Syariah law,” she quotes.
“Our issue is being unable to walk freely with the gender identity we are comfortable with and want to be with,” she says. “Our issues can even start from the basic things such as, which washroom do we go to?” she questions. Nisha also explained that 60 percent of the transgender community are involved in sex work due to limited opportunities as they are often shunned by society presumably for “survivability.”
As for health aspects, people still believe that same-sex marriages causes STDs such as the popular, HIV/AIDS diseases, however as activists such as Nisha Ayub have proven, such claims are just mere myths and can still occur in cisgender sexual relations. However to this date, many people still claim and believe that LGBT is still the main cause of such diseases, and not to blame the lack of practice of safe sex.
“I Accept” posed at an “Instagram” posing card at Dataran Underground.
The social media has been showing signs of acceptance towards LGBT as we see more and more people justifying LGBT online
However with that said religious people still hold strong to their beliefs and also do try their best to reason with what they deem as “blasphemic”. Groups such as ISMA on twitter, constantly promote to prevent muslims to fall into the uprising of LGBT in the country.
Shenntyara Mirtha Yusof, an LGBT activist who often dedicates her time and effort to attend as well as perform in various LGBT movements, has opinionated that it has become lesser of an issue as more individuals have come out. “At least the LGBT community in Malaysia is one big family,” she says. Shenntyara also as the others have stated, the influence of role models on social media who are supportive towards the LGBT community has contributed into building a more accepting society. However, “It’s hard when it’s Malaysia per se, because it is a Muslim country,” she said. “For me personally, you can’t bring other religious bias, politics, freedom of expression together in one big loop, and not as fast as we probably want it, I don’t think there’ll be a pride march soon in Malaysia. It would be better and it would bring growth to the country as you are opening your home to other queer people from different parts of the world.” she added. “It’s not something you talk openly about, it’s like, talking about sex with your asian parents.” Shenntyara explained, discussing the reasons of which LGBT is such a Taboo in Malaysia. “You could be attracted to a guy, or you could be attracted to girl, or no one else. It is a spectrum. For a person to be judged based on that, it is ridiculous because, you could be a CEO in a large firm and it is your achievement as well as what you worked for, it has nothing to do with your sexuality.” she emphasized, rejecting the un-idealistic idea of judging individuals based on who they sleep with. “It starts with education, to teach more about the different types of relationships and personalities.” Shenntyara said as a way for the community and system to be accepting towards LGBT. “It’s not just about being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or a transgender, it is about being a person who isn’t defined by their personality or identity.” she added. “You won’t question your best friend when they like people of their own gender, because you understand them as a person.”she ended.
Bernard Yap flaunts his Pride flag around his university campus.
Bernard, a 21 year old homesexual boy who had came out openly to the people around him said, “Acceptance never came easy”. “Throughout my schooling life, I’ve always been bullied,” he added. “In college, I had a couple of my classmate who had issues with me being gay. They would push me out of their circle and not associate with me. They would constantly gossip about me in class. However, I confronted them and we sorted things out,” he said. Bernard suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. “It was a struggle to find a place where I belong,” he said. “I guess one of the things that you have to do during these times is that, you have got to accept yourself first before expecting anyone else to accept you,” he emphasized. “I just started being comfortable with myself,” he said. Bernard then began to have more friends who were accepting, and stood up for who is truly is. His family who once wasn’t highly fond of his sexuality, also came around and accepted Bernard.