Galen Centre: “LGBTIQ communities face threats, difficulties to healthcare services due to discrimination”

THE recent wave of remarks and hate speech by MPs from both the government and opposition sides of the Dewan Rakyat is cause for concern and alarm, said a think tank.

According to the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, the disparaging, discriminatory, and bigoted comments made during the SUHAKAM report discussion are damaging as that they imply that the society needs to be protected from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or questioning (LGBTIQ) communities and should act against them.

“Such anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric has real world consequences on people and communities. They may cause an escalation of harmful and discriminating actions and promote violence,” said Galen Centre CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement.

“These communities which include persons of different gender diversity and sexual orientation often encounter sexual harassment, discrimination, and face threats of physical and emotional violence.”

According to Azrul, several transgender women have been gravely hurt or killed in documented violent assault cases in Klang, Seremban, and Kuantan over the years, adding that perpetrators of such targeted abuse often act with impunity and escape unpunished.

He further noted that Article 8 of the Constitution stated that every individual is equal under the law and that there should be no discrimination against citizens based on gender because these are fundamental rights under both the Malaysian federal constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“As MPs, they, more than anyone else, should know that everyone is protected by the law and there is no room for harassment and threats against anyone regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or nationality,” Azrul remarked.

“One should not be subject to inequality by virtue of their sexual orientation and proposing any legislation that may deprive a person of such protection is heinous.”

In the Global Trans Rights Index, Malaysia came in second worst out of 203 countries in terms of transgender rights, which is an indication of a high level of injustice towards marginalised and vulnerable populations.

Senior fellow of the Galen Centre and Executive Director of SEED Foundation Mitch Yusmar Yusof said such sentiments and threats created obstacles and barriers for those in need of health care.

“Fear and discrimination discourage them from seeking treatment and care; they may have trouble finding alternative healthcare services if they are turned away. Where is our compassion?

“The LGBTIQ communities have been and will always be a valuable and essential part of Malaysia’s diverse society, a part of our history, country and people,” he stressed. – June 16, 2023


Main pic credit: Sihat Malaysia

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