Anti-LGBT musical in Malaysia sparks anger
KUALA LUMPUR: A new musical now touring Malaysia that aims to “make aware” parents and children to the “negative affects” of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has sparked the ire of the gay community in the country.
“This is just another part of the propaganda that is hitting this country,” said lesbian activist Norhan. She told Bikyanews.com that Malaysian LGBT must fight against these pervasive attitudes by showing the real side of being gay and lesbian.
“We are people and for a country that is promoting so much about tolerance and acceptance within Islam, they are again creating something that is hateful and will lead to anger and possible violence,” she added.
Director Rahman Adam was asked by the government to stage the musical to tackle the “worsening social issue” of LGBT people in Malaysia.
“I was compelled to do something as an art professional to oppose LGBT issue that has affected our society, including school children,” said Rahman at a press conference to launch the musical earlier this month.
“We want to awaken the youths and parents to this issue.”
Asmara Songsang (‘Abnormal Desire’) is showing at the national Palace of Culture (Istana Budaya) in Kuala Lumpur on March 1 and 2 and will be taken to all 12 states in Malaysia throughout the rest of this year.
All performances are free and likely funded by the government or an Islamic organization.
The piece of “educational” theater is the latest effort to ‘tackle’ what the government and Islamic authorities perceive as the ‘spread’ of LGBT people in Malaysia.
The recent spate of anger towards the government came after a reported 16,000 people participated in “seminars” sponsored by the Education Ministry aimed at teaching parents and educators in the country about how to identify LGBT behavior in youth and combat it.
Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said 21 seminars had been held and the ministry would be conducting more.
“It is like a disease but it can be cured with early intervention,’’ he told a press conference after opening the seminar.
For Mohammed Islam, the continued intolerance against the LGBT community is directly opposing the professed message of tolerance being pushed by the government and Prime Minister Najib Razak about Islam.
“I feel this is counter to everything we are being told and what we are telling the world about Islam,” the 24-year-old graduate student and gay Malaysian, told Bikyanews.com. “If we are going to be a leader in the world and talk about tolerance, we must be accepting to all people and citizens. These seminars are just continuing to show Malaysia as a backward country.”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time the ruling government has lashed out against the LGBT community. Last year, the government called LGBT “of the devil.”
The Umno, in ending its final assembly gathering ahead of elections that must take place before April next year, said that anti-Islamic elements threaten the country, singling out homosexuality and those who promote liberalism in “mainly Muslim Malaysia.”
One delegate called for a rehabilitation center for the LGBT community to “re-educate” them and bring them back to society.
“We want to transform them from zaman kejahilan (dark age of ignorance),” Tanjong representative Mohd Shaharudin Mohd Hasan Tajudin told the over 2,000 delegates at Umno’s cavernous Putra World Trade Center (PWTC).
Shaharudin also suggested that high school students be taught to reject the LGBT lifestyle — along with pluralism and liberalism — in their religious education.
Another delegate, Ariffin Mohd Arif from Kimanis, called for an official sanction against those who spread pluralism and liberalism, which he called a “teaching of the Devil.”
“Just like al-Arqam … we must take action against these people. Our actions must be strict, and we must not budge,” Ariffin said.
The religious issues elicited animated responses from the delegates, with Shaharudin exclaiming that Umno fighters shall be “bathed in blood” should anyone mock Islamic principles.