Endorsed Statement: LGBT Malaysians uphold democracy because we are citizens

For Immediate Release
5 December 2016

LGBT Malaysians uphold democracy because we are citizens

We are appalled by the absurd, irresponsible and inaccurate claims made by the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA) chief executive Azril Mohd Amin regarding LGBT persons in two news articles dated 27 November 2016.

In both articles, CENTHRA irresponsibly labeled LGBT persons and groups as ‘militant’ simply for participating in Bersih 5 and supporting the call for free and fair elections. LGBT persons and groups stand in solidarity with diverse groups and all people living in Malaysia calling for good, transparent and accountable governance in our country. In the articles, CENTHRA also criticized BERSIH for allowing LGBT persons to participate in the rallies. We find the call to isolate and police LGBT groups and persons deeply troubling.

The fact is, LGBT persons are often denied some, if not all, of fundamental human rights because of our sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Many LGBT persons face gross discrimination and violence within homes, schools, workplace, hospitals, and public sectors simply for being who we are. CENTHRA’s views increase risks and challenges for LGBT persons to seek assistance and access justice when violence occurs.

While more and more family members now accept their LGBT children, they find it difficult to come out in support of their children or family members due to the kind of discrimination and stigma that individuals and groups like CENTHRA espouse. Anecdotal evidence and global trends show that LGBT persons are more vulnerable to depression, stress, suicidal ideation and attempts than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.

How else could LGBT persons seek justice and create a better Malaysia if not by speaking up and participating in democracy? CENTHRA, however, is suggesting that LGBT persons cannot be seen, be in solidarity, participate and exercise our constitutional rights. For CENTHRA, LGBT persons should remain hidden, silent and accept the gross discrimination and violence that we experience. The fact that there is consistent resistance to LGBT persons whenever we take a visible stance demonstrates deep levels of homophobia and transphobia that need to be addressed through meaningful engagements with LGBT persons and in accordance to international standards of human rights.

CENTHRA’s views on human rights are selective and do not fully promote the principles of universality, non-discrimination and equality of human rights. We remind CENTHRA that Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings (without exception) are born free and equal. Article 5 of the Federal Constitution guarantees fundamental liberties to all persons. It is important for CENTHRA to understand that their skewed views on human rights misinform the public and reinforce the harmful notion that LGBT persons are a threat. We are extremely concerned that these claims will increase the vulnerability and risks of LGBT persons and human rights defenders to discrimination and violence.

We remind CENTHRA that Malaysia is a member of the United Nations and is obligated to uphold international human rights standards. We also call for meaningful dialogue and engagement with the LGBT community to promote understanding instead of misinformed condemnation, moral posturing and fear mongering.

Statement by the Malaysian LGBT community.

Komuniti LGBT Malaysia tegakkan demokrasi kerana kami rakyat Malaysia

Kami kecewa dengan dakwaan-dakwaan yang tidak munasabah, tidak bertanggungjawab dan tidak tepat oleh Azril Mohd Amin, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Pusat Penyelidikan dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia (CENTHRA) dalam dua artikel beliau yang bertarikh 27 November 2016.

Dalam kedua-dua artikel tersebut, CENTHRA secara tidak bertanggungjawabnya telah melabel individu-individu dan kumpulan-kumpulan LGBT sebagai ‘militan’ hanya kerana mengambil bahagian dalam perhimpunan BERSIH 5 dan menyokong seruan bagi pilihan raya bersih dan adil. Hakikatnya, individu-individu dan kumpulan-kumpulan LGBT turun bersolidariti dengan pelbagai kumpulan dan rakyat seluruh masyarakat Malaysia untuk menyeru tadbir urus yang baik, telus dan amanah di negara kita. Dalam tulisan beliau, CENTHRA turut mengkritik BERSIH kerana membenarkan individu-individu LGBT mengambil bahagian dalam perhimpunan berkenaan. Kami mendapati saranan CENTHRA untuk mengetepikan dan mengawasi kumpulan-kumpulan dan individu-individu LGBT sebagai satu perkara yang bermasalah serta membimbangkan.

Pada hakikatnya, rata-rata individu-individu LGBT telah dinafikan sebahagian, atau kesemua hak asasi manusia semata-mata disebabkan orientasi seksual, identiti gender dan ekspresi gender mereka. Ramai individu LGBT yang mengalami diskriminasi dan keganasan di rumah atau keluarga, kampus, tempat kerja, hospital, dan sektor awam hanya kerana menjadi diri sendiri. Pandangan CENTHRA tersebut meningkatkan lagi risiko dan menghalang individu LGBT untuk mendapatkan bantuan dan akses kepada keadilan apabila keganasan berlaku.

Walaupun kian banyak keluarga yang kini menyokong ahli keluarga LGBT mereka, mereka juga mengalami kesukaran untuk menyuarakan atau menunjukkan sokongan mereka terhadap anak-anak atau ahli keluarga mereka disebabkan oleh diskriminasi dan stigma terhadap individu LGBT oleh kumpulan-kumpulan serta individu-individu seperti CENTHRA. Pengalaman ramai individu LGBT dan trend global dengan jelas menunjukkan bahawa individu LGBT lebih berisiko dilanda kemurungan, tekanan, fikiran untuk membunuh diri dan cubaan untuk membunuh diri berbanding dengan individu heteroseksual dan cisgender (merujuk kepada individu yang mendapati pengalaman hidupnya selari dengan identiti gender yang diberikan ketika lahir).

Bagaimanakah individu-individu LGBT boleh memperoleh keadilan dan membina Malaysia yang lebih baik sekiranya kami tidak bersuara dan tidak melibatkan diri dalam demokrasi? CENTHRA, walau bagaimanapun, tetap menyarankan individu-individu LGBT untuk tidak tampak, tidak bersolidariti, menglibatkan diri dan mempraktikkan hak-hak perlembagaan kami. Bagi CENTHRA, individu-individu LGBT harus bersembunyi, senyap, dan menerima sahaja diskriminasi serta keganasan yang kami alami. Penentangan yang berterusan terhadap individu-individu LGBT apabila kami mengambil pendirian umum membuktikan wujudnya homophobia dan transphobia yang mendalam dan perlu ditangani melalui dialog yang bermakna dengan individu-individu LGBT dan selaras dengan piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa.

CENTHRA mengambil pandangan yang selektif terhadap hak asasi manusia dan telah meminggirkan prinsip-prinsip hak asasi manusia, termasuklah kesejagatan (universality), tanpa diskriminasi (non-discrimination) serta kesaksamaan (equality). Kami mengingatkan CENTHRA bahawa Perkara 1 Deklarasi Sejagat Hak Asasi Manusia menyatakan bahawa semua manusia (tanpa kekecualian) lahir bebas dan sama rata. Perkara 5 Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia menjamin kebebasan asasi bagi semua orang. Adalah penting untuk CENTHRA faham bahawa pandangan mereka yang tidak menyeluruh terhadap hak asasi manusia mengelirukan masyarakat dan mengukuhkan lagi anggapan bahaya bahawa individu-individu LGBT merupakan suatu ancaman. Kami sangat bimbang dakwaan-dakwaan tersebut akan meningkatkan ancaman dan risiko berlakunya keganasan dan diskriminasi terhadap individu-individu LGBT dan pembela hak asasi manusia.

Kami mengingatkan CENTHRA bahawa Malaysia adalah ahli Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu dan berkewajiban menegakkan piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa. Kami juga menyarankan dialog dan pertukaran fikiran yang bermakna dengan komuniti LGBT untuk memupuk pemahaman, dan bukan sekadar mencaci maki, memandang hina atau menyebarkan ketakutan dan prasangka.

Kenyataan daripada komuniti LGBT Malaysia.

Endorsed by: (in alphabetical order)

  1. Aliran
  2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  3. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  4. Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative (PELANGI)
  5. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
  6. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  7. Diversity
  8. Friends of Malaysia – Civil Liberties
  9. Justice for Sisters
  10. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS)
  11. Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU)
  12. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  13. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
  14. Malaysian Atheists
  15. Malaysian Humanist and Rationalist Movement (myHARAM)
  16. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
  17. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
  18. North South Initiative (NSI)
  19. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  20. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  21. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  22. Projek Dialog
  23. Pusat KOMAS
  24. Seksualiti Merdeka
  25. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
  26. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  27. The G Blog
  28. The Malaysian Feminist
  29. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)