Offensive speech against LGBT - apply Standing Orders on MPs

Justice for Sisters


LETTER | Justice for Sisters is deeply horrified by the discriminatory and offensive speech and language used in Parliament by several members of Parliament in relation to LGBT people on March 14 and 18 - and that these discriminatory speeches against LGBT people have gone unchecked.

Particularly since the Women’s Day March, debates in Parliament have been tainted by the use of degrading and dehumanising language such as jijik (disgusting) and songsang (deviant); sexual innuendos; comparisons of LGBT people to animals; and calls for the arrest, imprisonment of LGBT persons in Malaysia. These are all forms of extreme, discriminatory and offensive speech that incite hate and violence towards LGBT people.

Furthermore, these discriminatory and anti-LGBT statements were repeatedly made by a handful of people. These repeat offenders include Haji Noor Azmi Ghazali (Harapan- Bagan Serai) and Hajah Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang).

It is even more disturbing to note Hajah Siti Zailah’s prejudicial sentiments, given the fact she is on the Parliament Select Committee on Gender and Rights. This committee and its members are guided by the standards set by UN conventions Malaysia has ratified and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This means upholding human rights principles and the values of equality, non-discrimination, dignity, diversity, respect and choice for all persons.

Articles 36(4) and 36(10)(c) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat give guidance to MPs against speaking offensively or promoting feelings of ill-will or hostility between the different communities in our country. And yet, in parliamentary sessions on March 14 and 18, the MPs were allowed to make vile, hysterical, non-evidence based and fear-mongering statements about LGBT people without consequences.

We call on the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to act on his duty to all Malaysian people to apply the Standing Orders, to which all MPs are bound, and to uphold the fundamental rights and protections that all Malaysian people are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. 

Just as any MP could – and should – invoke these articles to call out offensive speech against groups of people based on their ethnicity, religion or other identities, we call on the speaker and other MPs to call out those who make offensive remarks against LGBT persons.

Homophobia and transphobia are the same as racism, sexism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination. No religion allows discrimination, violence and coercion towards others. Homophobia and transphobia are not limited to LGBTIQ persons. Especially in the Malaysian context, many people, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, experience discrimination based on their association with LGBT people or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition, over the past few years, we have seen an increase in violence, hate crimes and discrimination against LGBT people by diverse actors in various spaces, including educational institutions, workplaces and homes. We are also seeing an increase of vigilante and anti-LGBT groups employing various methods to punish and "rehabilitate" LGBT people. We are concerned that these statements by public officials will further increase misinformation about and sanction violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Malaysia, with no consequences for the perpetrators.

In ensuring a Malaysia that is harmonious, peaceful and safe for all persons, the speaker of Parliament and MPs have a duty to intervene in discriminatory speeches against LGBT persons as these speeches have adverse impacts on the perception, attitude and treatment of not only LGBT people, but those who also support the human rights of LGBT persons in Malaysia. 

Justice for Sisters looks forward to working with the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and MPs who are committed to the wellbeing of all Malaysians and everyone who calls this country home.

Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat:

- 36 (4) It shall be out of order for members of the House to use offensive language or make a sexist remark.

- 36 (10) It shall be out of order to use –

(c) words which are likely to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities in the Federation or infringe any provision of the Constitution or the Sedition Act 1948.

MPs who have made discriminatory remarks against LGBT people in Parliament: 

Hajah Siti Zailah binti Mohd Yusoff [Rantau Panjang]

Haji Ahmad Amzad bin Mohamed @ Hashim [Kuala Terengganu]

Noor Azmi bin Ghazali [Bagan Serai]

Haji Ahmad Nazlan bin Idris [Jerantut]

Haji Hassanudin [Hulu Langat]

Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man [Kubang Kerian]

Hajah Azizah Mohd Dun [Beaufort]

Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi [Bagan Datuk]

Nik Nazmi bin Nik Ahmad [Setiawangsa]

Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali [Kuala Nerus]

Mastura Mohd Yazid [Kuala Kangsar]

Haji Ahmad Haji Maslan [Pontian]

Bung Moktar Radin [Kinabatangan]

Haji Awang Hashim [Pendang]

Ismail Sabri Yaakob [Bera]

Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer [Jelutong]

JUSTICE FOR SISTERS aims to raise public awareness on violence and persecution against transgenders.

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