May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, and as such I feel compelled to write something that is being viewed as most of Malaysia with a stigma that has reached truly frightening proportions. First and foremost, let us review some facts.
Homosexuality is not a mental disorder, as one Dr Marshitah, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, can so casually suggest without any reference from the Malaysian Psychiatric Association. Being gay or lesbian has not been seen as a mental disorder since 1979 and, in fact, her view point is not even recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Similarly, there is no just cause, religious or civil, to suggest that transgender people should be beaten up, as what has happened in Kuantan in the months passed, with no further word from the police up till now on what actions will be taken against them.
Instead of providing education that homosexuality is a normal occurrence, having been recorded in hundreds of animal species of avian, mammalian and reptilian descent, we have a government education system, a non-government organization and even religious leaders who still come out and state that homosexuality is something that is unnatural. The evidence is of course to the contrary.
The simple truth is that homosexuality has now become the new boogeyman in Malaysia for purely selfish reasons. It does not affect the work of a doctor, nor does it make any civil servant less or more of a capable leader, as suggested by a certain Parliament member through his ludicrous call to screen future elected leaders for homosexuality. This, of course, is the same leader who decided to brand a certain party a group of pondans for not contesting in a by-election two years ago.
For those in school, homophobia becomes a constant cause of torment and bullying. While most Malaysian teens are capable of shrugging it off and do not bow down to the concept of teenage suicide as we see in America, it is imperative to know that such bullying will have long term scarring on a person’s psyche’.
A person’s sexual orientation nor gender has no effect whatsoever on the way they perform in their selected professions. Homophobia, however, will affect them to the point of a lacking in focus and a burden of shame caused by societal pressure that will result in a decrement to both the individual and those that surround him.
On this particular day, I just implore that we take a moment to read up on what we know about homosexuality before catering to prejudice. Malaysia has always been a land where we have learned to agree to disagree without having to resort to violence and hate speech in such a manner deemed life-threatening.
Malaysians may not agree with homosexuality. They may state so for religious reasons. However, the very same people who speak so loud against homosexuality should take note that somewhere in their family, nuclear or extended, there are gay and lesbian relatives hearing him shame them. It is a fact that you may have an uncle, an aunty, a cousin, a nephew, a niece, a son, a daughter or perhaps even your own grandchildren, who are gay. Would you cause them such emotional damage for something they have no control over?
What the LGBT community is asking for right now is a right to proper education, an acknowledgement of their existence and a right to be protected under the law, something that the transgenders have in the Federal Constitution, but not those of us with differing sexual orientations.
In other words, what we want for ourselves is the right to be recognised as human beings just like everyone else. Would you deny us even that?