Faced with overwhelming backlash from both local and international Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer (LGBTQ) communities, Malaysia’s Ministry Of Health has recently removed the category of Gender Confusion from its online video competition. Well, better late than never, right?
Alongside banner ads with taglines like “Ignorance Is The Ultimate Disability”, the contest, launched in June 2017, had asked for video entries that would educate the public on the consequences of homosexuality. Scrambling to do some damage control, the Deputy Director-General Of Health had insisted that creating any discrimination was unintentional.
Unintentional or not, it certainly did nothing to help the increasing violence faced by the LGBTQ community in Malaysia. We might think we’re in the 21st Century, but June 2017 has also seen the attack of an 18 year old effeminate boy, who was brutally beaten, raped and is now brain dead.
Which is precisely why advocates for the LGBTQ community in Malaysia, Singapore or otherwise need to continually speak up and create awareness.
It was prominent Transgender rights activist, Nisha Ayub who was invited and present at the meeting during which the Ministry Of Health conceded, and made the decision to remove the anti-homosexual category.
It is a pleasant surprise to find out that in a conservative country where homosexuality is still criminalised, there are people who are actually willing to listen. While change may come in small steps, each win is something to be celebrated.
We might not feel that we are influential enough to make any difference, but we are responsible for raising awareness about the community. We need to have the courage to have those difficult and awkward conversations – if only to make one more person just a little more understanding.
If you would like to begin making a stand, you have your first chance this 1 July 2017 where you can join us in Singapore at Pink Dot 2017!
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