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1 Malaysian transsexual fights for rights 1/11
2 Sexual risk behavior among MSM in Malaysia 1/11
4 China announces high-speed rail link to Singapore via Vietnam 1/11
5 Malaysian radio censors Lady Gaga’s pro-gay song 3/11
6 Malaysian gay-themed movie a box office smash hit 3/11
7 Malaysia sends 66 boys to gay cure camp 4/11
8 In Southeast Asia, no longer silence on LGBT issues 5/11
9 29 ways towards an LGBTIQ-friendly Malaysia, May 29 5/11
10 Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) IV. 5/11
11 PT KopiTalk: Sensible Fun: Drug Use Among Gay Men 7/11
12 Risk Behavior and HIV Among MSM in Malaysia 7/11
13 Banquet for 400, lesbian wedding in Malaysia makes the news 8/11
14 Community Development Ministry to meet with transgender activists 8/11
15 Gay Malaysian pastor urges gays to come out 8/11
16 Buddhists share their thoughts about homosexuality at forum 8/11
17 The strange treatment of trans people in Malaysia’s media 10/11
18 Let’s be queer without fear: Nov 9 – 13 10/11
19 Malaysian police cancel gay arts festival 11/11
20 PT Foundation concerned by the ban on Seksualiti Merdeka 11/11
21 Malaysian states consider new penalties for gays 11/11
2011 January 09 – Taiwan News
Malaysian transsexual fights for rights
by Eileen Ng (AP)
A Malaysian transsexual vowed to fight for her rights after a court refused to change the gender on her identification documents to female following sex-change surgery, her lawyer said Sunday. Lawyer Wong Kah Woh said the High Court ruled Friday it was sympathetic but couldn’t declare his 35-year-old client _ who isn’t identified for safety reasons _ a woman because it has no jurisdiction to deal with the issue.
Wong said his client had applied to the National Registration Department to update the gender status on her identity card after undergoing a sex-change operation in Thailand in 2006, but was told to get a court order to declare she is a woman. "The court ruled it was not prepared to grant the application because it did not have the power to do so. My client is upset but she will fight for her rights and will appeal the decision," Wong told The Associated Press.
Sex-change surgery is legal in mainly Muslim Malaysia, but transsexuals often cannot legally change their gender status. Activists have estimated there are at least 50,000 transsexuals in Malaysia, many who face widespread prejudice and often cannot find employment. Wong said in 2005 a transsexual successfully changed her gender after a judge approved her application on the grounds that it was the court’s duty to help. But in the same year, another judge rejected a similar bid by a transsexual, he said. No law exists in the country to address the issue, which has been left to the judges’ discretion, he said. Wong urged the government to enact necessary legislation to empower the courts to deal with the issue.
2011 January – PubMed.gov
Sexual risk behavior among MSM in Malaysia
Kanter J, Koh C, Razali K, Tai R, Izenberg J, Rajan L, Van Griensven F, Kamarulzaman A. – Tulane University School of Medicine and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA.
This research aimed to determine HIV prevalence, risk behaviour and knowledge of transmission methods among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Venue-day-time sampling (VDTS) was applied to identify venues where men congregate to solicit sex from other men. Participants recruited from clubs, massage parlours, saunas and one park self-completed a computerized behavioural questionnaire, were administered an oral rapid HIV test and given the opportunity to return later to receive full counselling and learn their HIV status. A total of 517 men were enrolled into the study. The majority were Malays (47.0%) and Chinese (43.7%). Twenty tested HIV positive (3.9%). Significant predictors of HIV infection included having unprotected anal sex with a casual partner (44.9% of participants, odds ratio [OR] = 2.99; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13-7.90; P = 0.027), having unprotected receptive anal sex (27.9%, OR = 2.71; 95% CI 1.10-6.54; P = 0.030) and having group sex (33.3%, OR = 3.95; 95% CI 1.55-10.09; P = 0.004). One in five participants (20.1% and 19.5%) did not believe that HIV could be transmitted through insertive or receptive anal sex, respectively. Risk behaviour is high and knowledge of HIV transmission methods was low among MSM in Kuala Lumpur. Future prevention efforts should focus on providing risk reduction education to this community.
January 04, 2011 – The Malasyian Insider
Being gay and okay
by Hafidz Baharom
About three months back, a gay sex therapist by the name of Dan Savage came out with the idea of creating a campaign on Youtube to speak out against homophobic bullying. This, in turn, spurted out a number of well-known videos on the topic, coming from different stars in the United States. The campaign came to be known as the “It Gets Better” campaign. In this country of ours, the LGBT community under the umbrella of Seksualiti Merdeka was eager to contribute as well, subsequently producing a number of videos of gay, lesbian and transgender Malaysians coming out and telling Malaysians that it’s okay to be gay. I know. It sounds like something you’d hear from “Avenue Q.”
I’m sure by now most have read about the furore (in Berita Harian at least) over a recent Youtube video where a Malay guy named Azwan Ismail admits he’s gay and he’s okay. While the negative reactions to this video may put a wrench in the works of the community promoting a positive outlook on sexual orientation, I just have one thing to say about these videos.
Keep making them.
If Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (not related) has an issue with it, then I guess Jakim should look into it as he suggests. But I have one question for Jakim: What proof do you have other than circumstantial evidence? Is Jakim going to probe Azwan Ismail, getting him to come in for a medical checkup of his anus to prove that he has in fact had anal intercourse? Considering what the police went through with Saiful Bukhari in Anwar’s current case, I guess Jakim will have to go through three medical institutions to get that report.
By the way, Azwan Ismail is the editor of a book I contributed to; the queer anthology known as “Orang Macam Kita”. The one thing that bothers me is not the negative religious feedback the video has received. Believe me, the amount of Quranic quotes alone would drive people to wonder if the repetition itself was a rewriting of the Holy Book in the Youtube comment section. The reason behind this article is the fact that Azwan Ismail is receiving death threats. Now I may not be a religious scholar; as a matter of fact, one close friend called me a Muslim iconoclast. However, I’m sure the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself said I will not consider him a part of my people. He did not say kill the faggoty son of a b**tch.
And for those who wish to adhere to Persian law, where homosexuals are hanged from cranes, I would like to ask them when they converted to the Shiite sect? For those who remain Sunni and take Saudi Arabia for an example, I merely ask if you support getting women driving a car or leaving the house without a male in tow to being beaten up with nightsticks. Malaysia is a nation of law and not that of mob rule. So for people to come out and ask that Azwan Ismail be hanged for something such as coming out of the closet, I would like to give them a separate scenario. Another Azwan, Azwan Ali, has admitted to having dressed up as a woman before and has repented. Why isn’t he on the “hanging” list?
Now isn’t that a drag?
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been accused of having allegedly taken part in homosexual acts and being caught with his pants down by the governments of Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and the United States (as seen on WikiLeaks’ leaked memos.) Why isn’t he getting the same flak? In comparison to these two famous individuals, the only difference I can see is that Azwan Ismail is on a lower rung in terms of the Malaysian popularity ladder. I hate making videos of myself due to my fear of the spotlight, so I’ll say this in the form of writing.
I was not threatened or bullied for coming out of the closet since I did it after college. Even then, I did so covertly; at first with my family members i.e. my brothers, my closest cousins, my youngest aunt before finally coming out to my parents and then openly at The Annexe Gallery in 2008, which was mentioned very quietly in The Star. There is no problem being yourself in this nation. However, the government does frown upon your being too loud about it in public.
And that is where we need to change, and that is what I’m fighting for in my own way by talking to politicians from both sides of the divide. We may be a minority. However, we are a minority of Malaysian citizens with the equal right to vote even if we don’t have the right to openly declare our love or preference for members of the same sex.
It does get better, but we need to change the nation for the betterment of everyone regardless of their race, religion, politics and sexual orientation. And with that, I thank Azwan Ismail for bringing us one step forward towards that goal.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist
19 January, 2011 – CNN
China announces high-speed rail link to Singapore via Vietnam – Construction of a section of railway linking Nanning to Vietnam will China has announced plans to build a high-speed railway linking the southern Chinese Guangxi Zhaung autonomous region with Singapore via Vietnam, according to China Daily.
The first stage of construction will link the Chinese city of Nanning with Pingxiang, a city near China’s border with Vietnam. Work on this section will commence in the second half of 2011, China Daily reported, citing the regional government’s development and reform commission. The construction of the high-speed rail will be the Nanning government’s main priority in the next five years. The line is meant to increase commerce and various trade between China and ASEAN nations.
"We will invest 15.6 billion yuan (US$3.05 billion) to build the railway linking Nanning and Singapore via Vietnam," said Long Li, director of the region’s transportation department. "This is extremely important for the construction of the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor." The corridor refers to the economic link between China and ASEAN nations, starting at Nanning in Guangxi and passing through Hanoi in Vietnam, Vientiane in Laos, Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, Thailand’s Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on its way to Singapore. China Daily referred to Guangxi as the country’s main foreign-trade center, with ASEAN being its largest bloc trading partner.begin later this year
May 2011 Update
12 May, 2011 – CNN
Shanghai-Beijing high-speed train trial begins – As the official launch date for one of China’s most anticipated new train lines nears, cutting travel time between Shanghai and Beijing in half, the new service tests the tracks
by Jessica Beaton
Flying between Beijing and Shanghai might soon be a thing of the past. The Shanghai-Beijing high-speed train began its one-month trial yesterday, testing the 1,318-kilometer route for the official late June opening, according to state media reports. The first train left Shanghai at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Shanghai government-run news portal EastDay.com, although it didn’t carry any passengers. The line is opening ahead of schedule; it was originally set to begin operations in early 2012.
The train will connect two of China’s economic powerhouses with only one stop between them in Nanjing. The whole trip will take just under five hours — more than twice the flying time between the two cities — with average speeds of 300 kilometers per hour. The average train trip between the two cities is currently about 10 hours. "The initially planned operation speed was 350 kilometers per hour but we decided to reduce it due to safety concerns and prices," said Wang Yongping, spokesman for the Ministry of Railways, to state media reporters.
Currently the fastest train line in China connects Beijing with Tianjin, running at 350 kilometers per hour. Ticket prices have been yet to be released, although China.org.cn reports that the train will use an ID-based ticket booking system starting June 1 in an attempt to prevent ticket scalping. Shanghai may implement the system as early as May 22, due to its policy of releasing tickets 11 days before a trip.
The construction of the 1,318-kilometer line was started in April 2008 with total investment estimated at RMB 220.9 billion. The new line is part of China’s increased investment in its high-speed rail network, which reached 8,358 kilometers at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 16,000 kilometers by 2020.
17 March 2011 – PinkNews
Malaysian radio censors Lady Gaga’s pro-gay song
by Jessica Geen
Lady Gaga’s hit song Born This Way has been censored in Malaysia because its pro-gay lyrics are deemed “offensive”. Radio stations have replaced some of the song’s lyrics with garble to avoid contravening strict laws on morality. The contentious lyrics are: “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby.” AMP Radio Networks, Malaysia’s top private radio operator, told Associated Press that the song had been censored to adhere to government rules banning songs which violate “good taste or decency or [are] offensive to public feeling.”
In a statement, the company said: “The particular lyrics in Born This Way may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia’s social and religious observances. “The issue of being gay, lesbian or [bisexual] is still considered as a ‘taboo’ by general Malaysians.”
Broadcasters can be fined up to 50,000 ringgit ($16,000) for breaking morality laws.
In 2009, Sacha Baron Cohen’s film Bruno, about a gay fashion journalist, was banned in Malaysia for having gay sex scenes. The country has a prohibition on “gross indecency with another male person,” with up to two years in prison for those found guilty.
March 30, 2011 – Monsters and Critics
Malaysian gay-themed movie a smash hit at the box office
Kuala Lumpur – A controversial gay-themed movie raked in more than 1 million ringgit (322,580 dollars) within its first five days in Muslim Malaysia, surprising the producer and critics alike, the official Bernama news agency reported Wednesday. Dalam Botol, which translates as ‘In a Bottle,’ opened to packed houses after being cleared by government censors. The film tells the story of a man who gets a sex change to satisfy his male lover, only to be jilted by that same partner. The heartbroken protagonist then falls in love with a young woman, but is unable to continue in that relationship due to her sex change.
Producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman said she was pleasantly surprised that the movie had such strong support from local viewers. Critics were divided over the story, with some saying it depicted a negative image of homosexuals and transgender people, while others welcomed it as a breakthrough in the strictly censored local film industry. Raja Azmi said the film neither encourages nor discourages homosexuality, but merely portrays a reality in Malaysian society.
The movie is based on a true story of a friend, she said. Film censors in mainly Muslim Malaysia frown on the depiction of homosexuality, making exceptions in the past only when the gay characters repent or are killed off.
19 April 2011 – PinkNews
Malaysia sends 66 boys to gay cure camp
by Jessica Geen
Malaysian authorities have admitted sending 66 teenage boys thought to be gay to a camp to learn “masculine behaviour”. An official from Terengganu state said the boys, aged between 13 and 17, were identified by teachers as having effeminate mannerisms.
This week, they are being sent on a four-day “self-development course” in the hope of dissuading them from being gay or transgender. State education director Razali Daud told The Associated Press that the camp was designed “to guide them back to the right path in life before they reach a point of no return. Such effeminate behavior is unnatural and will affect their studies and their future.”
He added: “We can’t force the boys to change, but we want them to know what their choices are in life. Some effeminate boys end up as a transvestite or a homosexual, but we want to do our best to limit this.” Officials said the boys were invited to the camp and were not compelled to go. Malaysia punishes homosexuality with up to 20 years in prison, although this is not always enforced. Cross-dressing is sometimes punished.
6 May 2011 – LGBT Asylum News
In Southeast Asia, no longer silence on LGBT issues
by Dr. Jason Abbott
Last week 66 young boys in the conservative largely Muslim state of Terengganu, Malaysia, were sent to a special ‘re-education’ camp for displaying signs of effeminacy which if left ‘unchecked’, state official argued, could “reach the point of no return”. In other words they could ‘become’ gay or transsexual. While the women’s minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, criticized this move, neither the state government nor the Federal government has yet acted to do anything about this. But we should not be either shocked or surprised since gay rights in Malaysia are largely non-existent. Only a month earlier for example, Malaysian radio stations chose to deliberately ‘garble’ the line, “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian or transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in the Lady Gaga song “Born this Way” for fear of being fined by the government for breaking rules on ‘good taste… decency.. [or for being] “offensive to public feeling”.
Indeed as the current trial of the opposition leader, and former deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim visibly demonstrates, the country’s religious and political elite continue to regard homosexuality as a morally repugnant way of life. Thus in Anwar’s case putting him on trial for sodomy (which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison) has proven a ‘convenient’ and sadly rational tactic by the government to destroy his political career and tarnish his public image. But Malaysia is by no-means on it’s own in the region in its staunchly conservative stance. When it comes to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, Southeast Asia is found severely wanting.
While Thailand might be infamous for its transsexual ‘lady boys’, same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption remain illegal, and there are no anti-discrimination laws nor laws concerning gender and identity expression. Arguably the most gay-friendly country in Southeast Asia (perhaps surprisingly given that it is overwhelmingly Catholic) is The Philippines, where same-sex adoption is permitted and since 2009 openly gay men and women have been allowed to serve in the military. However even here anti-discrimination law is largely absent nationally, while same-sex marriages or civil partnerships are not officially recognized. And yet Thailand, Cambodia and The Philippines are in a veritable league of their own compared to the rest of the region. In Burma, Brunei, and Malaysia homosexuality remains illegal with harsh prison sentences the normal punishment; none of the ten Southeast Asian countries recognize neither same-sex marriages or partnerships; only two allow same-sex adoption (Cambodia and The Philippines); three allow gay men or women to serve in the military (The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore) and none have passed anti-discrimination laws.
To defend this appalling track record, arguments have been made about ‘cultural and spiritual pollution’ from the decadent (sic) West, and about the incompatibility of homosexuality with the teachings of Islam and other religions. In most cases the opposition is pure bigotry and drawn from the view that regards LGBTs as nothing more than deviant ‘life-style’ choices. The head of Malaysia’s controversial Islamic Affairs department in an interview with Time magazine in 2000 epitomized this view when he remarked that homosexuality “is a crime worse than murder”. When asked if it was wrong for two people of the same sex to love each other he rebuked the questioner replying, “Love? How can men have sex with men? God did not make them this way. This is all Western influence”.
In even starker terms former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad warned in a national day speech in 2003 that “if there are any homosexuals in Malaysia they had better mend their ways.” In the same speech he also criticized the West saying that, “they are very angry — especially their reporters, many of whom are homos — when we take legal action against these practices.” But it is not simply Malaysia where such views remain widespread. For example, a crowd of extremists shut down the 4th International Lesbian and Gay Association Asia conference that was supposed to take place in Surabaya, Indonesia between 26th and 28th March 2010. In addition all 150 participants had to evacuate the conference hotel.
24 May 2011 – Fridae
29 ways towards an LGBTIQ-friendly Malaysia, May 29
by News Editor
Organised in conjunction with International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO), the programme includes Courage Unfolds, a 30-minute documentary on LGBTIQ movements throughout Asia, hearing confessions from ex-homophobes and identifying 29 ways towards an LGBTIQ-Friendly Malaysia – a tribute to the 29 Yogyakarta Principles.
The following is a message from the organisers of the event, Seksualiti Merdeka:
Almost two-thirds of all countries in the world no longer consider same-sex relationships a crime, with many dismantling homophobic and transphobic policies, implementing anti-discrimination laws, recognising same-sex unions, allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military. Yet in Malaysia, not only do we still criminalise sodomy, arrest transsexuals, raid gay-friendly venues and prevent the positive portrayals of queers in the media, we also seem to be stepping up on state-sponsored acts of homophobia and transphobia, such as the boot camps for effeminate boys. When will Malaysia recognise lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people as human beings deserving of equal rights? How long will LGBTIQs here continue to suffer the denial of our basic rights at the hands of both authorities and the public?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990. Yet more than 20 years later, homosexuality is still regarded as a crime in 76 out of 195 countries in the world. In South East Asia alone, 4 out of 11 countries, including Malaysia, still have laws that will put LGBTIQs in prison. While the outlook for the global movement may be positive, the daily reality for LGBTIQs stuck in these countries remain bleak and depressing. In 2006, International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) was then mooted on May 17 to commemorate WHO’s historical action, to help people around the world to get together, reach out and push towards a world free from homophobia and transphobia. In Malaysia this year, we are commemorating IDAHO on May 29.
What Is Homophobia & Transphobia
Homophobia & Transphobia refer to prejudice, aversion, hatred and irrational fear toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual or any non-heterosexual orientation. Author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood." Among more discussed forms are institutionalized homophobia (e.g. religious and state-sponsored) and internalized homophobia – a form of homophobia among people who experience same-sex attraction regardless of whether or not they identify as LGBT.
On May 29, we will look at the LGBTIQ situation in ASEAN, hear confessions from ex-homophobes and work on a proposed 29 Ways Towards an LGBTIQ-Friendly Malaysia. Why 29 Ways? Because we want to pay tribute to the 29 Yogyakarta Principles, on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. On Sunday May 29 2011, we stand in solidarity with people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity across Malaysia and the world.
Malaysia Has To Do The Same!
The global movement toward recognising of LGBTIQ rights is unstoppable now. Countries that still penalise homosexuality are in the minority, even in Asia. Since the first IDAHO in 2006, countries that have decriminalised homosexuality include Nepal, India, Fiji, Nicaragua, Panama, Kosovo, Vanuatu, Niue & Tokelau (part of the realm of New Zealand). Malaysia has to do the same. But will fellow Malaysians stand up for the rights of their brothers and sisters who are persecuted for nothing more than their sexual orientation and gender identity? What can we do? If you believe in equal rights for all Malaysians, come join us this Sun May 29, 3pm, at The Annexe Gallery, as we launch our campaign against homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia.
1. Courage Unfolds: Screening of 30mins documentary on LGBTIQ movements throughout Asia.
2. Neighbourhood Watch: Thilaga, Khartini & Pang share lessons from their time at the very 1st ASEAN LGBTIQ caucus meeting in Jakarta earlier this month.
3. Confessions of Ex Homophobes: Individuals share about how they changed from being homophobic. Come and share!
4. Malaysian LGBT Milestones: Launch of website to document important markers in Malaysian history for LGBTIQs.
5. Unveiling the 29 Ways: Towards at LGBTIQ-friendly Malaysia: Audience pick their favourite way(s), break into groups to discuss how they can contribute to the campaign in their own ways, and present their ideas. We need as many people as possible to join in this campaign. So come and bring supportive friends!
Day/Date: Sunday, May 29
Time: 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Venue: The Annexe Gallery, 2nd Floor, Central Market Annexe
(Behind Central Market) Jalan Hang Kasturi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
May 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) IV. CSBR Sexuality Institute 2011 – 16 Jul, 2011 – 23 Jul, 2011
The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) is pleased to announce the 4th CSBR Sexuality Institute 2011 to be held between July 16th and 23rd 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Designed as a comprehensive curriculum on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights with an in depth discussion on the linkages between research and practice, the CSBR Sexuality Institute offers a holistic interdisciplinary program combining history, theory, research and politics of sexuality with applications of advocacy and fieldwork. The CSBR Sexuality Institute brings together leading sexual and reproductive rights activists, academics and researchers. Held previously in Malaysia (2008), Turkey (2009) and Indonesia (2010) with participants from 23 countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the institutes include lectures, group work, roundtables, panels, site visits and film screenings, as well as a methodology to engage participants’ own experiences around sexuality.
“I would summarize the experience I had at the CSBR Institute in one word – that is: LIBERATING. The novelty of this [CSBR’s] discourse in our socio-cultural context is certainly one important aspect, but more importantly, the silence that our society harbors around sexuality has become so “normal” that we often forget how integral it is to our existence and well-being.” (Mahrukh Mouhiddin, BRAC University – Bangladesh, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2008).
“In one sentence; the Institute has shown me that sexuality is not only about problems, ill-being and repercussion; it is also about pleasure, happiness, well being and CHANGE” (Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls – Pakistan, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2009).
“The Institute provided us with a very holistic picture about the issues around sexuality. The sessions were interconnected and helped me integrate feminist perspective into the sexual health perspective. The Institute gave me very important tools to deal with the issues in my own country, and empowered me to talk about the real issues of the society from the perspective of sexuality, sexual health and rights.” (Dr. Muhammed Aslam Bajwa, Organization for Participatory Development – Pakistan, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2010).
The realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights is an integral part of gender equality, development and social justice. However, sexuality continues to be a contested site of political struggles both in Muslim societies and across the globe. Increasing global militarism, conservatism, and nationalism over the last decades provoked a serious backlash on sexual and reproductive health and rights, both at national and global levels. Given the current polarizations, it is more pertinent than ever to strengthen critical insight, further research, enhance knowledge and capacity on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and build an inclusive and affirmative discourse on sexuality.
2011 July 16 – Fridae
PT KopiTalk: Sensible Fun: Drug Use Among Gay Men
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Why You Should Attend
Since the advent of Ecstasy pills in the late 80’s and the rise of a gay clubbing scene worldwide, drug use among gay men have become increasingly common occurrence. While the main use of drugs in the clubbing scene is to heighten fun, there are those who use drugs for other reasons; among which are as a means to escape, to temporarily cure social inhibition, and to increase sexual desire and attractiveness. Thus, if you have ever used drugs, are currently using drugs, or have been tempted to use drugs – for whatever reasons – this talk may give you tips on how to do sensibly.
Programme Facilitator – Martin Choo
Martin Choo is a project director and researcher with the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERIA) at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Trained in sociology and social research, he is currently managing a WorldBank funded study on fishermen, drug use and HIV risk behaviour in Malaysia. He is also a consultant for HIV organisations in the Asia Pacific and the technical support provider with the Alliance Technical Support Hub in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn from the best. For Free!
Limited places available kindly RSVP your attendance by Friday (15 July 2011) to Jeremy Kwan at email@example.com
7C-1 Jalan Ipoh Kecil, Off Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur
T. 03-4044 4611 (Hunting line) F. 03-4044 4622
Time – 2011-07-16, 15:00 – 18:00
Venue – The Albion
Address – 31,Jalan Berangan, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, 58200, Malaysia
03-4044 4611 (Hunting line)
July 2011 – TreatAsia
Risk Behavior and HIV Among MSM in Malaysia
Sex between men is illegal in Malaysia and homosexuality is highly stigmatized. HIV organizations are consequently faced with the challenge of advocating for safe sex in an environment in which anal sex is prohibited and spaces where men meet are subject to police raids. In addition, clinical anecdotes suggest that HIV incidence may be increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Malaysia.
To assess HIV prevalence and understand risk behaviors and knowledge about HIV transmission among MSM in Kuala Lumpur, a study—funded by a grant to the Malaysian AIDS Council from amfAR, with additional support from the World Bank—was conducted among men from Malaysia’s three main ethnic groups attending local entertainment venues. A total of 517 Malay, Chinese, and Indian men completed a survey on their risk behaviors and received an oral, rapid HIV test.1
Among the participants, 3.9 percent tested HIV-positive, compared to 0.5 percent among the general Malaysian adult population. In addition, 59 percent of all participants reported that they had never previously been tested for HIV. Knowledge of HIV transmission was relatively high, with 80 percent understanding that HIV can be transmitted via anal sex. Almost half, however, reported having unprotected anal sex with a casual partner in the past six months. Within the three population groups in the study, the only significant difference observed was that Malay men were more likely to report unprotected anal sex with a casual partner than Chinese men.
The high-risk behavior and lack of easily accessible HIV testing for MSM observed in this study raise concerns about the potential for further growth in the HIV epidemic among MSM in Malaysia. The study authors acknowledge the current restrictive legal and social environment, which makes prevention work and behavioral interventions difficult, but stress the urgency of providing effective HIV education to Malaysian MSM.
1 August 2011 – Fridae
Banquet for 400, lesbian wedding in Malaysia makes the news
by News Editor
A couple in their late twenties is said to be the first lesbian couple to publicly marry in Malaysia and have a wedding banquet for 400 guests, according to local media. A lesbian couple in Batu Pahat, a small town in the state of Johor, Malaysia made the news when the local media reported that the pair had a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and wedding banquet for 400 guests on Saturday. (The tea ceremony is regarded to be a quintessential Chinese wedding tradition where the new couple serves the beverage to both sets of parents and elders of the family.)
The pair – identified in media reports only as Thomas, 29, and Apple, 27 – has been dating for two years. Local Chinese language newspaper Sin Chew Daily reported on the wedding in great detail including the couple’s courtship, wedding preparations, the bride’s dowry and betrothal gifts, menu at the wedding banguet, and that the bride’s mother had initially objected to the relationship but became eventually accepting. Thomas and Apple have a publicly accessible Facebook page which has attracted over 6,000 "likes" on Monday, up from 630 as mentioned in the first newspaper report that appeared on Saturday. The marriage is however not legally recognised as Malaysia has no provisions for same-sex marriages.
3 August 2011 – Fridae
Malaysia’s Community Development Ministry to meet with transgender rights activists
by Sylvia Tan
In a written statement, the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development clarified that it in fact provides counselling and guidance to transgender people without the “intention of ‘correcting’ behaviour etc in line with socially accepted norms.” The Women, Family & Community Development Ministry has said in a statement that Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Secretary-General Dato’ Noorul Ainur will meet with Seksualiti Merdeka, a sexuality rights advocacy group, and members of the transgender community to understand and address the needs of transgender people in Malaysia.
The ministry was responding to a petition endorsed by 17 NGOs and some 600 unnamed individuals following the passing of transgender woman Aleesha Farhana whose application to officially change her name and gender was rejected by the High Court despite having undergone a sex reassignment surgery in Thailand two years ago. According to reports, she died from a heart attack on Saturday, 12 days after the High Court ruling.
The statement, which has been published on Seksualiti Merdeka’s website on Aug 3, said that transgender people in Malaysia face extreme levels of stigmatisation and discrimination which is often exacerbated by biased media reporting. Transgender people often face abuses “ranging from physical violence to mental torture to sexual assault”, to being “prevented from accessing health services, housing, education, employment and other basic rights enjoyed by all Malaysians.”
“The unwillingness of the Malaysian government to recognise trans people as equal before the law facilitates this ugly persistence in violating us.” The statement further urged the authorities to “repeal of laws that criminalise trans people for (their) identity, dressing and mannerisms” and to create a safer environment for transgender people. Among the NGOs that endorsed the statement were Amnesty International (Malaysia), Association of Women’s Lawyers, Centre for Independent Journalism, Coalition of Sexual Bodily Rights, Seksualiti Merdeka and Suaram. In a written reply from Suriani Kempe, Special Tasks Officer to the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, the ministry clarified that it in fact provides counselling and guidance to transgender people without the “intention of ‘correcting’ behaviour etc in line with socially accepted norms.”
Co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka Pang Khee Teik told Fridae: “We are happy to observe that the Ministry is willing to engage, and willing to articulate a position that is progressive and inclusive. Of course there is a lot more that the Ministry can do before all of us have equal opportunities to be helped and to access services in Malaysia. But we must support such a stand and hold the Ministry accountable to act positively for the good of all transgender people in Malaysia.” Seksualiti Merdeka, which is also an annual sexuality rights festival held in August, will also be organising a forum titled “Say My Name: Why name and gender means so much to transgender people” later this month, and have extended the invitation to Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Secretary-General Dato’ Noorul Ainur.
9 August 2011 – PinkNews
Gay Malaysian pastor urges gays to come out
by Jessica Geen
A gay pastor in Malaysia is urging gay people to come out in order to tackle homophobia. Reverend Ouyang Wen Feng, a controversial figure who runs a gay-friendly church, is thought to be the country’s only openly gay pastor. Although he now lives in the US, he frequently returns to Malaysia to call for gay rights, despite the country outlawing homosexuality. Speaking to AFP last week, the 41-year-old said: “When society discriminates against gay people, you only push gay people into the closet.
“When gay people stay in the closet, people don’t know what is gay or homosexuality and because of ignorance they keep discriminating and that will perpetuate prejudice. Gay people cannot just blame straight people for not understanding us.” He added that gay people should show others their “true faces and tell them who we are”.
The Rev, a former journalist, came out in 2006. He now lives in the US and works as a staff pastor and sociology tutor, while pursuing a degree in theology. He said that the gay-friendly church he co-founded in Kuala Lumpur is now “growing and developing”.
Earlier this year, reports said that one Malaysian district planned to send “effeminate” boys to a campwhere they could be dissuaded from growing up gay or transgender. A Terengganu state official said that 66 boys, aged between 13 and 17, were identified by teachers as having effeminate mannerisms. Campaigners said the scheme was dangerous and would not work.
23 August 2011 – Fridae
Buddhists share their thoughts about homosexuality at forum in Kuala Lumpur
by News Editor
Venerable Miao Jan, the coordinator of Prajna Meditation Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor: Gay people should face their own sexual orientation honestly and openly, come out bravely and not live in the closet. The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) and Buddhist Research Society of Malaysia (BRSM) held a seminar titled "Homosexuality: The Controversy in the Midst of Morality and Social Value" on Aug 19 in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sin Chew Daily on August 19 reported that about 200 people attended the open forum which had three panelists: Venerable Miao Jan, the coordinator of Prajna Meditation Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor; Datuk Ang Choo Hong, the president of the Buddhist Research Society of Malaysia; and Yap Hock Heng, a registered and licensed counsellor. The forum was emceed by YBAM secretary general See Chan Wing.
The following is a translation (by Fridae member Felix Liew) of a report published by Chinese language Sin Chew Daily on August 20:
The news of the traditional Chinese wedding of Malaysia’s first lesbian couple and the upcoming same-sex marriage of Rev. Ouyang Wen Feng to be celebrated in Malaysia has caused a stir in Malaysian society, drawing criticisms particularly from Christian groups. However, the coordinator of Prajna Meditation Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, the Venerable Miao Jan, encouraged gay people to face their own sexual orientation honestly and openly, urging them to come out bravely and not live in the closet [literally dark corners].
Ven. Miao Jan pointed out that she was not promoting the gay culture. But in her opinion, if gay people did not live honestly with their sexuality, they would fall in love with the wrong person someday, which would lead to pain not only for themselves, but also for their loved one(s). “Let gay people talk about their love life. We could only respect them and learn how to get along with them.” “I have a lot of gay friends too. Don’t treat them as though they are horrible people. They are also fun to be with and they are such lovable people. Besides, how does this present a problem to non-gay people?”
When asked whether gay people adopting children would create social problem, she did not answer the question squarely, but turned the question around and asked: “How much happiness can straight families today guarantee their children? The divorce rate is high these days, and this should give us room for thought." Datuk Ang Choo Hong said he treats gay people as normal. Gay people have long existed since the time of Buddha. He said if people could not bless Rev. Ouyang’s marriage, then they should keep quiet.
Yap Hock Heng was more concerned with the attitude that people have towards a gay person. Are they friendly? Are they willing to be in a gay person’s company? Are they willing to listen to their story and guide them?
14 October 2011 – LGBT Asylum News
The strange treatment of trans people in Malaysia’s media
by Paul Canning
Malaysia’s media is under fire for airing two bizarre explanations about transgender (‘mak nyah’) and effeminate gay people (‘pondan’). One claimed that they are a ‘threat to women’s livelihoods’, another that ‘wrong food consumption the cause of effeminate men’. “Pondan Ancaman Wanita” (Effeminate Men A Threat To Women) aired on the Wanita Hari Ini talkshow on TV3 4 October accusing effeminate men and transgender people of “stealing” women’s husbands and jobs.
Trans activist Jellene Eva told Free Malaysia Today:
“I would like to remind TV3 that all citizens of Malaysia are protected under the Federal Constitution and Defamation Act 1957. Under no circumstances may any discrimination or defamation be broadcast to incite hate towards Malaysians, regardless of gender. I hereby insist that the station release a press statement to apologize for the slanderous broadcast made to enact fear and hatred towards the transsexual community in Malaysia.”
The show was further accused of stereotyping women as makeup artists and wedding planners and also for suggesting that women are “whiny and weak” when faced with a competitive environment.
“A point that was made in the show," said Jellene, "was that women are threatened because effeminate men are monopolizing the makeup industry. This is wrong as the culinary arts, makeup and hairstyling industries are dominated by masculine men. So the title of the episode should have been “Lelaki Ancaman Wanita” (Men A Threat To Women) because these men are doing what used to be women’s jobs.”
Jellene said that Malaysia has come a long way in recognising that women are no longer confined to careers in beauty alone but have now expanded into previously male-dominated industries like the police force, engineering and entrepreneurship.
Read complete article here
28 October 2011 – Fridae
Let’s be queer without fear: Nov 9 – 13
by News Editor
Malaysia’s only sexuality rights festival is back for its fourth edition with its theme – Queer Without Fear – to "highlight how homophobia and transphobia have negatively affected and continues to affect the lives of untold numbers of Malaysians who are discriminated against and persecuted because of their sexual orientations and gender identities."
The following is a statement issued by organisers on Oct 27, 2011:
Malaysians have been fearless these past few years. We have demanded for fair elections, for justice, for democracy. Let us then remember that democracy does not only belong to the majority, or the powerful, or the loudest. Democracy belongs to all. Let’s demand for equal rights and human dignity not just for ourselves, but also for those who are different, whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, transgender, asexual, unsure or simply fabulous. Let’s be queer without fear.
Seksualiti Merdeka, meaning Sexuality Independence, is Malaysia’s only festival celebrating the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. It is organised by a loose coalition of NGOs, artists, activists and individuals and has been held annually since 2008. The festival programme includes forums, talks, workshops, book launches, art exhibition and performances.
This year, our theme – Queer Without Fear – highlights how homophobia and transphobia have negatively affected and continues to affect the lives of untold numbers of Malaysians who are discriminated against and persecuted because of their sexual orientations and gender identities. It is our firm belief that all Malaysians have the right to live and love without fear.
Read complete article here
3 November 2011 – PinkNews
Malaysian police cancel gay arts festival
by Stephen Gray
Police have ordered gay rights activists in Malaysia to scrap an annual arts festival aimed at fighting discrimination, the Associated Press reports. The Sexual Independence festival has been held in the capital of Kuala Lumpur since 2008, but has suffered increasing criticism by politicians and religious leaders as it gains awareness. Organisers of the five-day festival, which is held at a private arts centre, said it would feature performances of “queer anthems sung by fierce local singers and drag divas who know what it means to love out loud and proud”. But police have insisted the event be cancelled, with critics including the deputy prime minister. Threats of protests were also made against the festival.
In a statement run by Malaysia’s Bernama news agency, deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said authorities plan to “prevent any function relating to the program”. He said many organizations “feared the program could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order”. In Bernama’s reports, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin described the event as “inappropriate” and a “waste of time” Pang Khee Teik, a spokesman for the festival, said in a statement about the event: “Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile … it’s time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse”.
Media censorship rules forbid movies and song lyrics which promote acceptance of gays. Earlier this year, Lady Gaga urged Malaysians to reject the censorship of her hit, Born This Way. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia, a country which sparked anger for sending “effeminate” boys to a “gay cure” camp. The festival’s sponsors and supporters included the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International, the country’s main grouping of lawyers and other human rights organizations. Known as Seksualiti Merdeka in Malaysia, it attracts a crowd of around 1000 people a year.
07 November, 2011 – Pink Triangle
PT Foundation concerned by the ban on Seksualiti Merdeka
Kuala Lumpur – PT (Pink Triangle) Foundation is concerned with the negative effect that the police’s blanket ban on Seksualiti Merdeka (Sexuality Independence) will have on the HIV prevention, care and support work it does with the communities most affected by HIV in Malaysia.
The communities we work with are often marginalised and difficult to reach and we at PT Foundation work with a wide variety of organisations that allow us to better access these communities – one of these organisations is Seksualiti Merdeka. HIV is a significant problem here in Malaysia.
The Ministry of Health AIDS Registry registered more than 91,000 Malaysians living with HIV. In 2010, for the first time in Malaysia, HIV infection through sexual transmission has over taken injecting drug use as the main source of infection. Therefore it is more important than ever that effective and targeted HIV interventions to all communities happen.
We call on all Malaysians to exercise compassion and wisdom in dealing with the issues brought up by Seksualiti Merdeka. We also call on the authorities to ensure the safety and security of all those involved in this, especially Seksualiti Merdeka’s organisers, volunteers and supporters.
For further information please contact PT Foundation on +603 4044 4611.
11 November 2011 – PinkNews
Malaysian states consider new penalties for gays
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Two Malaysian states are considering a change in their Islamic laws so that it is more likely that gay Muslims will suffer under federal and local state laws. New laws planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities would give the state governments power to punish gays in addition to national laws which provide for caning and 20 years’ imprisonment. It appears prison terms could run consecutively under the laws.
Mohd Ali Rustam, chief minister of Malacca, said the state was reviewing its Islamic laws, with the effect that Muslim gays may be tried in court and punished with imprisonment or a fine. He told Reuters: “So many people like to promote human rights, even up to the point they want to allow lesbian activities and homosexuality.”
“In Islam, we cannot do all this. It is against Islamic law.” He added that Muslim LGBT people would also be required to attend counselling and that anyone who supported homosexuality could be subject to similar penalties.
About 60 percent of the country’s population of 28 million are Muslims. A gay arts festival was cancelled by police last week after criticism by politicians and religious leaders. Last year, Malaysia allowed gays to appear in films for the first time, so long as they turned straight at the end.