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Human Rights Watch criticizes Malaysia in annual report

Malaysia is 'backsliding on rights' says international human rights watchdog
Phil Robertson, deputy director, Asia, Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch has criticized Malaysia in its annual report published today.

'The Malaysian government’s promised human rights agenda fell far short in practice in 2012,' said Asia deputy director Phil Robertson.

'As elections approach, the government will need to demonstrate its willingness to uphold the rights of all citizens, whatever their political views.'

The international human rights watchdog pointed to Malaysia's heavy-handed repression of peaceful protestors, inadequate legal reform and government-sanctioned discrimination against the LGBT community.

'In two speeches in 2012, Prime Minister Najib condoned discrimination by singling out the LGBT community as a threatening "deviant culture" that "would not have a place in the country,",' Human Right Watch said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch also pointed to the fact that annual sexual diversity festival Seksualiti Merdeka was cancelled in 2012 'amidst ongoing intimidation of the LGBT community'. And a court refused a judicial review of the police's ban on 2011's festival.

'The Malaysian authorities should respect the fundamental rights of non-discrimination and equality, and stop demonizing people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,' said Boris Dittrich, former Dutch MP who helped bring gay marriage to The Netherlands in 2001, and advocacy director for the LGBT program at Human Rights Watch.

Political anxieties are running high in Malaysia as that, according to the constitution, the government must call a general election in the coming months.

This week Malaysia's deputy education minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi told over 1,000 parents and teachers at a seminar in the state of Andhra Pradesh:

'The duties and responsibilities of a teacher today is not just to understand the challenges in education issues or educating students in the classroom, but need to understand and address social issues such as the spread of LGBT symptoms.'

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