Malaysian minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa has complained about the presence of LGBT+ symbols at a women’s march organised in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (March 9).
Around 300 people took part in the demonstration organised the day after International Women’s Day, the publication Malaysiakini reported.
Pictures of the demonstration shared on social media showed various people holding the LGBT+ Pride flag, as well as various banners demanding an end to violence against women and girls, a ban on child marriage, and solidarity with minority groups.
“The government is very firm that LGBT practice will not be accepted at all in this country.”
—Malaysian minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa
Mujahid commented on the women’s march in a Facebook post on Saturday, sharing an article quoting Kuala Lumpur police saying the demonstration had not been authorised because organisers submitted the request too late.
“I am very shocked with the actions of certain parties… that misused democratic space in order to defend things that are wrong from the point of view of Islam,” Mujahid wrote, quoted by Reuters.
“As I have said before, the government is very firm that LGBT practice will not be accepted at all in this country,” added the minister, who in August last year ordered an arts festival to remove portraits of local LGBT activists.
Malaysian International Women’s Day march organisers highlight need for LGBT inclusion
The committee that organised the women’s march issued a statement on Sunday (March 10) in response to the minister’s remarks and the Malaysian media coverage of the event.
In their statement, women’s march organisers highlighted the main demands of the demonstration, asking to focus on those rather than any other controversy.
The first of the five points clearly includes LGBT+ rights, stating: “End all violence based on gender and sexual orientation.” The other demands focus on banning child marriages, reproductive rights, increase of minimum wage, and the dismantling of the patriarchy to “build a genuine democracy at all levels of society.”
Organisers stated that the Malaysian government has to be inclusive in its support of women’s rights.
They wrote: “The government cannot be selective in carrying out this duty to only particular groups of women, but must apply this to all everyone regardless of ethnicity, age, ability, location, gender or sexuality. This includes not only lesbian, bisexual, intersex, queer and trans women, but also indigenous women, young women, women domestic workers, women with disabilities, rural women, single women, heterosexual women and more.”
They added: “The specific and deliberate non-recognition of LBTIQ women acts as an attempt to exclude and erase an entire segment of the population of women. Without such an intersectional and inclusive approach, all of our measures towards building a more peaceful, harmonious and developed nation will be hampered.”