Muslims at the gathering were arrested by 'morality' police for cross-dressing and promoting 'vice'.
The Chairman of Malaysia’s Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, Charles Santiago, above, called the raid “harassment against a marginalised community” after “morality” police broke up the large party and arrested 20 people for cross-dressing and allegedly encouraging vice.
According to this report, Santiago, of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) said in a tweet:
When will we learn to respect and accept people for who they are?
Activist Numan Afifi, above, who was among those arrested at RexKL,an entertainment centre in Kuala late last Saturday, described the raid as “traumatizing and harrowing.”
About 40 religious officers backed by regular police came into the venue with some 1,000 participants, and they stopped the music and dance.
Afifi said authorities divided party-goers into two groups—Muslims and followers of other faiths.
Subsequently, 20 Muslims were taken to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department where their identity details were recorded. Numan said:
Some were alleged to have committed offences under cross-dressing while others, including me, for encouraging vice.
All 20 were released a few hours later but are required to return next week for questioning.
Earlier this year Afifi said in a Facebook post:
Hate speech plays a role in polarising societies as it can lead to intolerance between groups of people. This is especially dangerous in Malaysia, where race and religion are often politicised by political and religious actors for political or personal gain.
The LGBT community has continuously suffered discrimination, with conservative attitudes chipping away at the Muslim-majority nation’s one-time reputation for moderation and tolerance.
Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with sharia courts handling some cases for Muslim citizens, who make up around 60 percent of the population.
Homosexuality is forbidden and laws criminalising sodomy can result in imprisonment, corporal punishment and fines—although enforcement of the law is rare.
Siti Kassim, above, a human rights lawyer, condemned the raid, saying:
Moral policing must stop. These people are not criminals. The oppression and discrimination against LGBT people must end immediately.
Rights groups have on numerous occasions slammed Malaysian authorities for discrimination and coming up with programs to “cure” LGBT people.
Human Rights Watch said in August:
These programs jeopardize the equality, dignity, and rights of those who attend them, but also send a dangerous message to the wider public that LGBT people can and should change their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
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