Multiple authorities raided an iconic gay club in Malaysia for the first time in its 30 year history. Following the raid, observers saying it forms part of a worrying trend of persecution against the LGBTI community.
The gay club, Blue Boy, has operated in the national capital, Kuala Lumpur, for 30 years. About 100 people – locals and international tourists – were in the club at the time of the raid.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. But Blue Boy, has operated under an ‘entertainment license’, which allowed it to stay open for so long.
But at about 1.30am on Saturday morning, police raided the club. Authorities from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) and the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) also participated in the raid.
‘The government is very serious in dealing with this radical belief. Hopefully this initiative can mitigate the LGBT culture from spreading into our society,’ wrote the Ministry of Federal Territories on Facebook.
Local police said the raid formed part of a wider crackdown on drug use in the area. Police confirmed nothing suspicious was found and the Blue Boy had a valid business license.
“The preliminary inspection finds that the entertainment center has a valid business license, but if we detect any offense, we will revise the license and take action on the offence,’ Regional Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Adnan Md Iksha told media.
‘I was informed by the intelligence team, this premises is believed to have never been inspected even though it has been operating for more than 30 years.’
A slippery slope to discrimination
The unprecedented raid follows comments from Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah told LGBTI people to keep their ‘practices’ behind closed doors.
‘LGBTs have the right to practice whatever [it is] they do in private,’ Wan Azizah said on Monday but warned LGBTI people from ‘glamorizing’ their lives.
Malaysia’s LGBTI community has come under intense scrutiny in the past couple of weeks. The removal of portraits of two LGBTI people from an exhibition triggered a debate about the LGBTI community.
Conservative Islamists have called on Mahatir Mohamed’s government to do more to curb the spread of LGBTI people. But the government denied it discriminated against LGBTI people.
But that hasn’t stopped advocates from noticing an increase of persecution against the community.
Last week, a judge sentenced two people to caning because of their sexuality – a first for Malaysia. Police arrested two women for ‘attempted sexual relations’.
A local judge sentenced the women to six lashes and a RM3,330 (US$814) fine. They face their caning on 28 August.