Malaysian deputy education minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said yesterday that ‘there is nothing wrong’ with taking a musical with negative stereotypes of LGBT characters (who turn straight in the end) to schools and universities.
‘We don’t want our children to be involved in such activities and if the content of the musical helps our children understand it, then there is nothing wrong,’ said Puad to the Malay Mail.
‘We do not want to create hatred towards LGBT but it’s just that we need to convince people not to get involved in such activities.’
Asmara Songsang (‘Abnormal Desire’) debuted at the beginning of March at the Palace of Culture in Kuala Lumpur. All performances are free and it’s likely to have received funding from the government.
The musical is now about to go on the road touring schools and universities across the country.
In a review of the musical, blogger Alia Ali said it was ‘as narrow-minded and bigoted a view as one could get’.
A commentator on the Malaysiakini website called Changeagent pointed out the farcical aspects of using a musical to change the behavior of LGBT people, saying:
‘The highest grossing musical of all time Les Miserables didn’t influence anyone to break out from prison like its lead character, Jean Valjean.
‘Neither did the second most successful musical Phantom of the Opera inspire any disfigured musical genius to stalk beautiful soprano singers.
‘Musical director Rahman Adam and the simpletons from the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry would be extremely foolish to think that they can turn public opinion against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual) community with their poorly-researched Asmara Songsang joke of a musical.
‘The only thing they would probably achieve from this laughable farce is to paint themselves as insensitive and intolerant bigots to the rest of the world.’