In May 2010, two articles published in Kosmo and Harian Metro, blatantly attack and discriminate against the queer community. This will continue if we do not speak up against it. A memorandum to SUHAKAM on the ill representation and discrimination of the queer community in the media has been drafted and is published below.
The handover of the memorandum will be at 3.00pm, Thursday, June 10, 2010 at SUHAKAM. All are welcome to come in support of the queer community. Please send all endorsements to Thilaga by Tuesday, 8 June 2010.
10 June 2010
We, the undersigned, are enraged by the usage of disparaging words such as “songsang” (deviant), “lucah” (explicit), and “jijik” (disgusting) in the newspaper reports to describe the queer community. The words used by Kosmo! and the Harian Metro and echoed by other newspapers (such as The Star, 3 May 2010) are heavily loaded with moral connotations and paint the queer community unjustifiably and unfairly as deviants and morally tainted.
These recent attacks were first and foremost attacks on sexual rights and, by extension, on human rights. The claim and exercise of these rights are integral to a person’s identity and self-worth and do not in any way contribute to general misconduct or a decline in moral values as wrongly implied by these journalists and newspapers.
The continued stigma and discrimination perpetuated by the media towards the queer community (more pronounced since August 2003 when a memorandum on similar concerns was sent to Suhakam then) shows that Suhakam has done nothing to effectively uphold the human rights of the queer community as Malaysians of equal status.
These attacks were also a violation of privacy since these gatherings were by invitation only and exclusive to the queer community concerned.
We strongly condemn journalists and newspapers who use unscrupulous tactics to obtain their stories and who further rely on sensationalism and titillation to sell their newspapers. We consider these journalists and newspapers unethical and unprofessional because they break the profession’s own standards of good reporting.
Both journalists and editors should be aware of the impact and consequences of how the news is reported especially when it comes to news about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities where unethical and biased reporting only instigates hate and violence towards the queer community.
Creating and encouraging an environment of hate and violence is criminal. As a result of such irresponsible reporting, private spaces are being invaded and violated, thus making it harder and harder for the queer community to enjoy their human rights just like other Malaysians.
In light of our urgent concerns, we repeat our call since 28 August 2003, and urge Suhakam:
First, to push for the protection of the human rights of individuals perceived or identified lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transsexual, transgendered, queer, under the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Second, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that outlaw and criminalise mutually consensual sexual behaviour between adults.
Third, to further educate citizens on constitutional provisions for the protection of the human rights of citizens and non-citizens, and to further educate the public on the spirit and core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Yogyakarta Principles.
Fourth, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that restrict freedom of expression and freedom of information.
We hope that together, we will all be able to protect the democratic principles enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, and strengthen the practice of a truly humane, participatory democracy in Malaysia.
Level 29, Menara Tun Razak, Jln Raja Laut, KL