By Melissa Lee
Malaysia’s “no shame” police quizzed Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan over the banned Seksualiti Merdeka, a homosexual and transgender rights event that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration has been accused of using in a bid to discredit the free and fair elections movement.
Ambiga, who successfully led the July 9 Bersih rally calling for a revamp of the electoral system, was due to be the guest of honour at the even slated for November 9 to 13. But just like Bersih, the police have banned the event while Umno-linked groups like Perkasa and Gagasan have rushed to attack the forum as immoral and against Islam.
Some even went so far as to call the Lesbian Gays Bisexual and Transgender community “animals” while others questioned their right to call themselves a “community”.
“Have we no shame in this country? Please show some caring for them,” Ambiga told a press conference.
Marina told them off
Four officers from Brickfields police station had grilled Ambiga, a former president of the Bar Council, for about half an hour.
Others who were also questioned included Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez, Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah and one of the Seksualiti Merdeka organisers, Pang Khee Teik.
Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been a long-time fighter for LGBT rights was also present. She ticked off the police and authorities for targeting Ambiga and threatened to sue the government-controlled TV for calling Seksualiti Merdeka a “free sex festival”.
“I am very angry, very angry, there are no words to describe, at certain parties calling this a free sex festival. You have nothing better to do? Nowhere here is free sex allowed. Are you crazy to imagine this?” Marina told the press conference/
Seksualiti Merdeka is an annual festival organised by a coalition of NGOs, artistes, activists and individuals. The event has been held since 2008 without trouble until this year, when it was seized upon by the political groups out to compete for favour with the conservative Muslim community.
This year’s program had included forums, talks, workshops, book launches, art exhibition and performances. Marina was the 2009 guest of honour. – Malaysia Chronicle