By Ahmad Yasin and Chong Yee Shen
PARTI Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) are concerned about the statement from the Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department, Ahmad Marzuk Shaary who called for harsher punishment towards the LGBTQ community under the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).
He stated that all state religious agencies and enforcers have the authority to take action against those that fall outside gender and sexual orientation norms.
He also implored the public to report any activities, whether online or in the public sphere to authorities, advocating stricter enforcement on the sexual minority community.
Policing marginalised communities will tangibly worsen the plight of the vulnerable in Malaysia. Targetted discrimination is unacceptable for religious agencies.
Instead of showcasing exemplary behaviour, they have opted to redirect attention towards a vulnerable target, the LGBT community. Punishing and isolating this community is a new low for the Government.
LGBTQ: Perfect scapegoat to cover up Gov’t failures
What is the Government trying to achieve by putting out sweeping statements and announcing actions against the LGBTQ community? Shouldn’t they be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic instead?
Controversial news has caused the public to lose trust in the Government’s competence. We hear of ministers neglecting COVID-19 protocols during the election and campaign periods, and we even hear of forgeries of halal certificates.
Shouldn’t we be holding the guilty parties accountable for their misdeeds? Is this attack on the LGBTQ community intended to distract from the failures of this Government?
The harsh reality facing the LGBTQ community
The Federal Constitution is the nation’s supreme law. It guarantees freedom of expression and equal rights and protection to all, regardless of identity.
Politicians freely advocate discrimination and take equal rights lightly while neglecting the Constitution’s principles.
Releasing this thoughtless statement is pouring fuel into the fire. The LGBTQ community continues to struggle in defending themselves from being scapegoats.
Extremist religious ideology has taken further control of the administration. This is the main hurdle in defending the rights of the minority.
Authoritarian enforcement within our legal framework results in severe forms of oppression. We see this in the case of cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat, the raid on the trans community in Kedah, the case of the 12 men and the caning of a lesbian couple.
Authorities have called on the public to report on identity expression, asking that we throw our neighbour in jail for their clothing choices.
Incidents of harassment, abuse, and threats of endangerment are daily experiences for the LGBTQ community. Its members have found it challenging to uphold their fundamental human rights to defend themselves from persecution by the authorities, who are shrouded from accountability by religious narratives.
Trans sex workers have less access to healthcare, legal representation and empathy from law enforcement, even normalising incidents of sexual harassment in custody.
Now that a Deputy Minister is pushing for stricter enforcement and punishment, it is clear that the Government will continue its unlawful targeting of the LGBTQ community.
Enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation
Intolerance grows under the Perikatan Nasional administration. The Government should ensure that discrimination is never given any official sanction and consider positive policies to foster tolerance and acceptance, including passing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.
Open public discourse is essential to forming effective public policies, especially when they touch on issues such as sexuality.
We urge the Government to withdraw the idea of amending Act 355 and repeal all the repressive laws that discriminate against sexual minorities in Malaysia.
We will stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community against oppression, be it from the state or society in general. The emancipation of sexual minorities will continue to be a priority for us. – Jan 23, 2021.
Ahmad Yasin and Chong Yee Shen are members of Socialist Youth and Gender Bureau of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), respectively.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.