Leading global human rights defender Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to the Malaysian prime minister asking him to stop discriminating against LGBT citizens.
In the open letter to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak Human Rights Watch lists the many instances when Najib or members of his government have endorsed ‘discriminatory and rights-violating policy that vilifies members of the LGBT community in Malaysia’.
The list of instances include :
- a speech Najib gave in June 2012 in which he described the LGBT community as ‘deviant’
- government efforts to ‘convert gays’ announced in March 2012
- Malaysian insistence that protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity be kept out of the ASEAN declaration of human rights
- the Ministry of Education’s participation in a seminar that issued guidelines for parents to spot if their children are gay.
The letter points out that as members of the UN, Malaysia signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is bound by its principles of non-discrimination and equality.
‘The Malaysian government cannot simply choose which rights to grant and which to deny to various groups of people in Malaysia,’ the letter says, which is signed by Human Rights Watch LGBT director Boris Dittrich and Asia deputy director Phil Robertson.
In a statement released with the letter Human Rights Watch said:
‘Najib should make a commitment to repeal all laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT people. He should end projects aimed at the conversion, marginalization, or stigmatization of LGBT people, and initiate a public awareness campaign aimed at ending hostility toward LGBT people. By doing so, Malaysia would take a giant step toward becoming a rights-respecting “modern democracy,” a goal Najib has repeatedly endorsed.’
Just this week members of Najib’s UNMO party repeatedly made anti-LGBT statements at their national conference, the last before the next general election that must be called before April 2013.
‘Encouraging discrimination against a marginalized group to win votes repudiates commitments to respect rights that Malaysia touted when it sought a seat on the UN Human Rights Council,’ said Robertson.