Connect to share and comment

A guide to the dynamic economics, politics, and culture of the world's most populous region.

Malaysia bans gay rights festival

Celebration of gay life in Malaysia deemed a "threat to public order"
Malaysia gay 2011 11 09Enlarge
Protesters raise placards during a protest outside a corridor Mosque in Shah Alam near Kuala Lumpur on November 4, 2011. Demonstrators urged the goverment to give recognition to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A annual artsy celebration of gay life in Muslim-majority Malaysia was cruising along just fine for three years.

But now that crusading politicians and religious figures have heard of it, this year's festival is a "threat to public order."

The banning of Malaysia's "Seksualiti Merdeka" -- translation: sexual freedom -- has compelled Human Rights Watch to declare that a "discriminatory, homophobic agenda persists" in Malaysia's halls of power.

According to the Associated Press, the theme of this year's gathering was "Queer Without Fear." The group had planned talks on sexuality and a make-up workshop for drag queens.

There is, apparently, still much to fear if you're gay and Malay.

The nation's criminal laws still allow authorities to "prosecute sex acts between adults" and a code criminalizing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" is still on the books, according to Human Rights Watch.

Malaysia's deputy premier has called the festival a "deviationist activity."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/malaysia-bans-gay-rights-festival