Malaysia’s minister for tourism, arts, and culture this week claimed the country does not have any homosexuals, according to local media.
I don’t think we have anything like that [homosexuals] in our country’ Mohammaddin Ketapi reportedly told a Deutsche Welle reporter at the ITB Berlin tourism fair.
The reporter had asked him if Malaysia welcomed gay travelers.
Malaysia is a partner of ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel and tourism event.
But, it is also is in the middle of a worrying crackdown on the marginalized LGBTI community.
Police have raided gay clubs and arrested individuals.
One conservative state caned women for attempting lesbian sex. At least two trans women have been murdered in the last few months.
And, importantly, the government continues to spew anti-LGBTI rhetoric.
Malaysia’s prime minister last year said Malaysia could not accept LGBT rights and labeled them a Western import.
A Green Party politician in Germany, Volker Beck, earlier protested Malaysia’s partnership in ITB due to the country’s homophobia.
The minister’s aid in Berlin also reportedly tried to downplay the comment. He said the minister was clarifying the government’s official recognition of LGBT people.
‘Need a new minister’
People online in Malaysia and elsewhere were keen to denounce the minister’s comments.
— Emilie (@paintsandsings) March 6, 2019
That’s why we need a new minister. https://t.co/WSMQDuqN2q
— DJ Low (@DeejayLow) March 6, 2019
“I don’t think.” There, I fixed it. https://t.co/5xRqmwgXsc
— Pang Khee Teik (@PangKheeTeik) March 6, 2019