It's a dark hour for LGBT rights in Malaysia. Conservative Islamist politicians have decided to make suppression of homosexuality a political platform (one suggesting gay 'rehab' centres), there's been a series of gang attacks on transsexuals and the authorities quickly dismissed an appeal on the ban of the sexualities freedom festival Seksualiti Merdeka, which was held in 2008 to 2010 but banned in 2011.
One of the organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka, LGBT rights campaigner Pang Khee Teik has now responded to people within the community who have said that LGBT rights campaigning is making life worse for gay people in Malaysia.
Pang quotes a letter on the Seksualiti Merdeka blog that says: 'According to many of my friends, they were doing just fine getting around under the radar until Seksualiti Merdeka “decided” to fight for LGBT rights publicly. Now they blame Seksualiti Merdeka and its organisers for the scrutiny that they are being put through.'
In his response, Pang recognises the fears of the anonymous source of the letter, saying that he too was afraid to live openly as a gay man. ‘We live under the radar because we think under the radar is where we belong,’ he says.
But Pang argues that LGBT life doesn’t have to be underground in Malaysian society. ‘This silence is what feeds the beast of oppression,’ he says. ‘If we refuse to feed the beast, it will starve. Yes, it will get angry and it will sniff for blood. When we stop being afraid, the beast will find more ways to make us fear it again. It bares its fangs and howls louder. It snaps its jaws at us. It is afraid. Of us.’
Read the full blog post here.