Seksualiti Merdeka Challenges Ban

Press Statement

The Seksualiti Merdeka organising committee, represented here by Pang Khee Teik, Angela Kuga Thas, Thilaga Sulathireh, Siti Kasim and Michelle Nor Ismat, have filed a judicial review in December 2010 against the ban of our annual sexuality rights festival that was meant to take place in November 2011. We have cited the Deputy IGP, the Dang Wangi Deputy Chief, and the IGP, as respondents. We are asking that the ban be removed and declared null and void, and that the police give us copies of all reports made against us.

Seksualiti Merdeka is an annual sexuality rights festival held peacefully since 2008. From the beginning we have three simple aims. Firstly, to empower Malaysians who have been marginalized their whole lives for their sexuality and gender identities. Secondly, to champion sexuality rights as human rights – self-determination, expression and love are all vital to our humanity. Thirdly, to provide platforms for advocacy of human rights on issues of sexuality and gender.

Our event every year, consisting of forums, talks, and performances, have been sponsored and supported by many local and international organisations, including SUARAM, WAO, PT Foundation, Malaysian Bar Council, Empower, Tenaganita, Pusat Rakyat LB, Amnesty International, United Nations, etc. Last year, however, our event was banned by the Deputy IGP on the basis that Seksualiti Merdeka is allegedly a deviationist activity that could destroy religious freedom, could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order, and could threaten national security.

These claims are illogical and ridiculous. We hereby declare that the forums, talks and performances we planned to carry out last year were NOT deviationist, NOT disharmonious and NOT threatening to anyone, least of all our national security. The Deputy IGP has neither power nor basis to declare such a ban. The ban is absolutely unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic. We are truly outraged by this blatant abuse of power against innocent citizens.

The ban, the protests against our activities and all attempts to prevent us from expressing ourselves are irrefutable evidence of the discrimination faced by LGBTIQ Malaysians. We are not surprised by those who disagreed with us. In fact, we support their freedom to disagree with us just as we support everyone’s freedom to disagree. But by demanding that we be shut down, they have shown that they don’t understand the meaning of equality and will compromise the very right they are exercising. Their overwhelming existence and the imbalance of power in their favour show why we needed such a space for education, understanding and empowerment.

We are deeply disappointed that some media have twisted the truth about us and subjected us to further misunderstanding. More than anything, we need to take the Malaysian law enforcers to task for failing to equally protect the rights of ALL parties to express ourselves. The fact that the police acted on behalf of the bullies against the minorities reveals the severe inequality that lies at the heart of Malaysia.

We wish to thank everyone who have spoken up for our right to express ourselves. The bright side of last year's ban can be found in the numerous rational, compassionate and humanitarian voices that emerged in support of Seksualiti Merdeka. Thank you to those who do recognize our shared humanity. You give us hope for Malaysia. We will continue to fight until all Malaysians are free to be who they are and are treated equally before the law.


Read IGLHRC's press release and letter to Malaysian authorities »