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Ban on Malaysia’s LGBT festival upheld by Appeals Court

Malaysia’s Court of Appeals has sided with the authorities who banned the annual LGBT Seksualiti Merdeka festival in 2011 but say the ban on the event was only for that year

Ban on Malaysia’s LGBT festival upheld by Appeals Court

The Malaysian Court of Appeals has decided unanimously that the High Court of Malaysia had been right to dismiss a challenge to a 2011 police ban on the annual Seksualiti Merdeka festival.

The unanimous decision was delivered on 19 August by Court of Appeal justices Clement Allan Skinner, Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof and David Wong Dak Wah and upheld the decision of High Court Judge Rohana Yusuf, who presided over the matter in 2012.

In her judgment Yusuf dismissed the case on the grounds that a decision by the police to investigate a matter after receiving complaints of lawbreaking at the festival was not subject to judicial review, and that the ban was academic in nature.

However, the nature and number of complaints against the festival and the outcome of the police investigation remain unverified. The justices also maintained that the ban of Seksualiti Merdeka was only for the year 2011 but the event has not been held since.

‘We, the members of the 2011 Seksualiti Merdeka organizing committee, are very disappointed by the decision of the Seksualiti Merdeka’s appeal to review the police ban of Seksualiti Merdeka 2011,’ organizers said in a statement, warning that the decision set a dangerous precedent for other events of a political nature.

‘The court’s decision to maintain that the police ban announced by the then Deputy Inspector of General, Khalid Abu Bakar, suggests that, should a police report be lodged against an activity or event of any nature by any group of any political leaning, the organizers can be subjected to pre-emptive and arbitrary banning based on the assumptions that the activity or event may cause public disorder and public enmity,’ organizers said.

‘This effectively shuts down public discourse and attempts to create dialogue that fosters understanding and advances collective maturity.’

‘We still strongly feel that the police ban on Seksualiti Merdeka in 2011 was uncalled for, unnecessary, and a disproportionate response. We reiterate that Seksualiti Merdeka had been organizing its events since 2008 without triggering any public disorder, public enmity or incidents. In fact, by organizing our events, we have managed to reach out and sensitize members of the community regarding issues that greatly affect us, such as employment, persecution by the state, violence and acceptance.

‘We will continue to exercise our rights and promote justice and equality for all. We urge the members of the public to continue to support Seksualiti Merdeka and all groups that encourage public maturity and promote equality and social justice.’

GSN has sought comment from Seksualiti Merdeka over whether they will seek to resume holding the event in 2014 now that the courts have deemed the ban to have only been for 2011.

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