A LGBTI activist in Malaysia speaks out

Interview: LGBTI rights advocate Numan Afifi discusses how entrenched homophobia is in Malaysia

A 96-second video of an apparent homophobic attack has been circulating in Malaysia this week.

A group of individuals verbally abuse, then violently attack, two men. The group accused the two of having a sexual encounter in a car.

A Malaysia-based LGBTI rights group, The Pelangi Campaign, has called for a thorough investigation.

Numan Afifi, the group’s president, said that incident should be investigated as a hate crime.

‘This is not the first case of violence against the LGBTQ community,’ he said on Thursday (27 December).

‘In a country where peace and harmony prevail, we must acknowledge that this is a continuing threat that targets not only the LGBTQ community but also others, including women and religious minorities,’ he added.

With this apparent show of yet another instance of anti-LGBTI persecution in Malaysia, Gay Star News reached out to Numan to discuss the reaction to the video and the state of LGBTI rights in Malaysia.

How clear is it that what’s going on in the video is a hate crime?
The assailant can be heard saying “This is gay” to the victims during the assault on the video.

Has anyone been able to identify the victims, or have the victims come forward?
No one has identified the victims yet. They haven’t come forward. LGBT groups in Malaysia are actively monitoring social media in case of doxxing of the victims.

What has the reaction to the video been like?
The video has been shared thousands of times and has hundreds of thousands of views via multiple pages on Facebook and Twitter. Many viewers have mostly supported the act of violence and argued that it is justified.

What is the status of the police investigation?
They have said that they are investigating the incidents. Unfortunately, they have no lead aside from the video, and are asking the public to come forward with information.

How alarming is this video for the Malaysian LGBTI community?
This is very concerning for the LGBT community in Malaysia as this would be the first time an act of anti-gay violence is recorded on video. They fear that the spread of the video would normalize the violence and motivate more attacks on the community.

Are you concerned about an increase in homophobic attacks in Malaysia?
Yes, as the government has not addressed hate crimes in this country and there’s no legal/social protection if the victim comes forward to report the violence.

What message do you want to send to LGBTI allies?
We call for solidarity from the international community as LGBT groups in Malaysia are struggling to establish a support system for the local LGBT community. As there are no real government actions done to protect the minority, we are expecting that there will be more hate crimes against the LGBT community in Malaysia.

by Calum Stuart
Source – Gay Star News