Today Police in Malaysia have ordered gay activists to cancel an annual five-day queer arts festival after criticism from religious leaders and politicians in the largely Muslim nation.
The Associated Press reports that the Seksualiti Merdeka (“Sexual Independence”) Festival was scheduled to begin November 9 in Kuala Lumpur, with musical performances, talks, drag shows and art exhibits addressing homophobia and discrimination.
But after Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin described the event as “inappropriate” and a “waste of time” earlier today, deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar announced authorities would ban any function relating to the program.” Bakar added that many feared the festival “could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order.”
Sodomy is still illegal in Malaysia and punishable by a 20-year prison sentence.
On the festival website, event spokesman Pang Khee Teik wrote:

“If anything this ban proves why we need to keep fighting for our rights. The rights of innocent people are important. Homophobes and oppressors never like it when we question their right to be homophobic and oppressive. History is against you. The future generation will one day be embarrassed that their forefathers banned us. Meanwhile, we will continue to be fabulous, to love, and to be proud of who we are.”

It’s interesting to note that, just last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wrote an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald declaring himself the leader of a “progressive, liberal nation.”

Hmm, maybe something got lost in translation.

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