Malaysiakini Letter

Malaysia should not 'celebrate sexual and gender pluralism'

Matthew van Huizen  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | I wish to respond to Klang Member of Parliament Charles Santiago’s press statement with regards to the recent debacle surrounding the supposed appointment of Numan Afifi as an aide to the Minister of Youth and Sports.

I am appalled at Santiago’s sudden turn of phrase. The majority of conservative Malaysians who vehemently disagree with Numan’s appointment, do not with equal vehemence support the harassment, harm or murder of any person, including those who experience same-sex attraction.

Incidents of abuse, harm or murder are heinous crimes which should be punished swiftly and justly. It is sad that this red herring is lumped in together with opposition to Numan’s appointment in a press statement dealing primarily with Numan’s appointment. Thus, in employing such rhetoric, one would surely get the impression that opposition to Numan’s appointment is somewhat complementary to loutish, murderous and thuggish behaviour.

I can assure you that it is not. Furthermore, to insinuate our opposition to Numan’s appointment as discrimination against a person’s sexual orientation is misleading.

What Numan does in the privacy of his bedroom or whom he is attracted to is not my concern, even if I feel that the homosexual act is morally wrong and even if our penal code still considers sodomy a criminal offence.

Rather, my principal objection to his appointment is simply because he is a member of a gay pride movement called the Pelangi Campaign. A gay pride movement that states on its webpage: "We envision an inclusive Malaysia that embraces and celebrates sexual and gender pluralism".

To date, Numan has not distanced himself from the group or the above statement.

Conservatives believe that Malaysia should not celebrate sexual and gender pluralism. (Whether we are right or wrong on this matter, is a subject of a different debate and not the issue of our current contention.)

In the same way, a liberal cannot support the appointment of a Zakir Naik sympathizer to a government ministry. A conservative, too, cannot in good conscience, support such a person holding such a view from being in any government ministry, let alone one that deals specifically with the youth.

A conservative therefore has no choice but to voice his opposition against Numan’s appointment. Alas, when he does, he is deemed to be against homosexuals as persons. He is called a myriad of meaningless buzzwords like “discriminatory” or “bigot” and the worse of all, he is accused of causing violence against homosexuals.

Unfortunately, this is a caricature conservatives are often depicted with, not only in Malaysia but as recently noted, in supposedly mature democracies like Australia during its recent referendum to alter the meaning of marriage.

Worldwide, we see a conservative backlash against the views of the LGBT pride movement (the movement and not the sexual orientation). We are accused of hating homosexuals as persons – we don't. That must be cleared up. We don't want Numan in government positions not because of his sexual orientation per se but rather because of his views.

In the same way, we wouldn't want a straight person who is a gay pride supporter, or “gay ally” as it is fashionable to call them now, in our government. We feel the tone and reasoning used by Santiago only fuels the fire, which is the misleading idea that people opposing the LGBT pride movement must also hate and intend violence towards homosexuals.

Since the advent of a supposedly “New Malaysia”, whatever that means, there has been a call for greater openness and debate among the plurality of views in our country. This is, on the whole, is a rather splendid development.

All parties are entitled to have their views represented fairly, including conservatives. Alas, however, with the rhetoric used by MPs themselves, it seems that this vision of Malaysia is still yet to be attained.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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