The Hong Kong gay pop star, Denise Ho, says she has been barred from performing a concert in Malaysia because of her LGBT activism.
Ho had been due to perform a concert in Kuala Lumpur in April but was denied a performance visa, allegedly due to her outspoken support for the LGBT community.
The popular Cantopop singer received an official rejection letter on Thursday which did not explicitly say why the visa had been refused, stating that “a number of issues need to be addressed if the artist is brought in for the performance of this country”.
In a Facebook post to fans, the star apologised for the show’s cancellation, which had been expected to draw 2,000 attendees.
In the social media post, Ho said that her team had been informed that it was due to her vocal support for the LGBT community.
The country’s communications and multimedia minister, Salleh Said Keruak, declined to say why the visa had been turned down but told Thomson Reuter that all performances in the country must accord with “local laws and values”.
He added: “Malaysia welcomes any artist who projects a wholesome value”.
Ho had previously performed concerts in the conservative country without issue since 2006. She came out as gay publicly in 2012, the first mainstream female pop singer in Hong Kong to do so.
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“You would think that in 2018, where many countries are pushing for gay rights and same-sex marriages, that the world would be progressing,” Ho said. “But in fact it is not.”
She added: “Everyone has the right to be themselves. We can be openly gay as someone else can be Christian or Muslim”.
Ho is a well-known campaigner on LGBT and democracy causes and was arrested for protesting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy ‘umbrella revolution’ in 2014.
The LGBT community is routinely persecuted in Malaysia, where homosexuality is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The Government often promotes campaigns which targets LGBT people, including a recent ‘contest’ by Malaysian health authorities on preventing people from becoming gay or transgender.
Earlier this week an article published by a major Malaysian newspaper sparked a furious backlash, after claiming
The release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was delayed in the country, because it contained a ‘gay moment’.
However, Disney refused to cut the scene, and the country’s censorship board eventually relented.