Malaysian police ban gay festivalAround the World, Top Highlights Thursday, November 10th, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian police have cancelled an annual gay rights festival, after Muslims called for it to be banned.
The Seksualiti Merdeka (Sexuality Freedom) festival has been held in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, since 2008, but has suffered increasing criticism by politicians and religious leaders as it gains awareness.
A senior police official confirmed the decision to AFP.
Festival organizer Pang Khee Pik said the announcement marked a “very tragic day for Malaysia.”
He told AFP, “We are aware that homophobic polices in Malaysia are not isolated, but (the police decision) is a symptom of a systemic breakdown in human rights in the country.”
Pang said 1,500 people attended the event last year and organizers had expected that to double this year.
He said, “The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of Malaysia are tired of having our rights continually taken away from us. We are tired of being bullied, harassed, persecuted and put in jail for who we are.”
Homosexuality remains a taboo subject in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
reported that several weeks ago, members of the conservative opposition Islamic party PAS called for a concert later this month by Elton John to be banned.
They said the openly gay singer promotes “hedonism” and that his sexual orientation would corrupt Muslims.
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