Update (February 1, 2013) : Twenty-one anti-LGBT seminars involving 16,000 parents and teachers have been conducted, “and the ministry would be conducting more”. (The Star)
Update (September 16, 2012) : Ministry denies giving out LGBT guidelines. (New Straits Times)
Update (May 27, 2012) : Deputy Minister of Education endorses parenting seminar “to create awareness of LGBT practices and how detrimental they could be”. (New Straits Times)
Update (April 12, 2012) : Ministry wants “all the schools as well as the state education departments to monitor and stop such activities from now on”. (Malay Mail)
It seems the closer we get to the general elections, our sense of righteousness and morality too is intensified. Political actors work hard to show they are more honourable than their competitors and the Rakyat seem more than willing to cheer from the sidelines, assuming the role of a moral barometer.
It is as if Malaysia’s history, or possible future (depending on which team one is cheering), is only that of wickedness that needs immediate and total cleansing, and perhaps even by any means necessary.
Taken at face value this can be read as a positive thing. After all, we are a nation of decent people that uphold good values. However, in reality it is nothing but ugly business.
One example is the targeted campaign against Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders (LGBTs).
They are a segment of our society that is largely assimilated and minding their day to day lives, just like “everyone else”. And like everyone else, LGBTs too have multiple identities. They are children, parents and siblings who contribute to their families as well as this country across various industries be it as professionals, skilled workers or manual labourers. They nurture, care and protect us in our schools, hospitals and security forces. They pay bills, taxes as well as zakat contributions, just like everyone else.
LGBTs have existed as an integral part of our society all this while but at a time when the fight for our nation is anchored on who is holier, we are seeing a self-righteous political contest on who can best weed and wipe out this segment of society.
Using the media to win mass support, political groups scare the nation about a deviant import culture from the West with an agenda to corrupt Malaysians who are all naturally heterosexual into becoming LGBTs; and practice “free sex”. It does not matter whether these allegations are valid, they cause alarm bells to ring in government agencies and at grassroots level. The nation is spooked and slowly coerced into agreeing to a systemic cleansing process.
Last year the Terengganu Education Department was reported to have conducted a “sissy boot camp” to reform effeminate schoolboys. Minister of Women, Family and Community Development at the time, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, lambasted the state authority for stirring prejudice among schoolchildren.
But just a few days ago newspapers reported that 30 public schools are collaborating with an organisation called Jaringan Melayu Malaysia to campaign against LGBTs. There is no doubt that the first to bear the brunt of this campaign are easily identifiable effeminate boys and masculine girls.
It does not matter if they even know or understand their own sexuality. They must be fixed.
In a national initiative to shape minds and guard our collective morality, the Information Department has just announced a ban on programmes on state-owned television and radio featuring “gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now”. As the general elections approaches, the very existence of LGBTs has suddenly become a national crisis to be dealt with urgently.
But in the same statement arise one note of hope and compassion. Deputy Minister of Information, Communications and Culture, Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz, acknowledged that LGBTs “are everywhere, and they’re also human beings”. “Don’t humiliate them,” he said.
So please, stop with the degradation and persecution of our fellow citizens. There is no better place to start spreading the message of humanity and compassion than the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture.