In our present society, more and more gay communities from across the globe hold yearly celebrations. These colorful festivities are held to celebrate diversity, rights and freedom. As a minority group, gay communities make the most out of these events. Not only do they stand for the colorful lives of gay people, they are also a means to send a message to the world. Most especially to those who refuse to acknowledge the fact that we all live under the same big sky; that we are all humans and that we all have rights.
Unfortunately, politicians and religious leaders in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, wants to scrap the “Sexual Independence” festival. Since 2008, the “Sexual Independence” festival has been held under restrained circumstances.’ But the fun-filled and brave gay party is getting more attention and the conservatives are not too happy about it.
Being a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia has media censorship laws forbidding movies and song lyrics promoting the acceptance of gay people. A law that has been around for decades makes sodomy punishable by 20 years in prison.
The festival will start on November 9 and will last for five days. The theme: “Queer Without Fear”. Organizers, the event will feature musical performances of “queer anthems sung by fierce local singers and drag divas who know what it means to love out loud and proud.”
The festival was meant to fight homophobia in a socially conservative country, where a young man defended his sexuality on YouTube and received death threats for doing so. That is why the organizers found it important to have talks focusing on sexuality issues. One session is cleverly titled as “Defense Against The Dark Arts: Homophobia 101”.
Sadly, many people do not see the beauty and importance of such festivals to gay people. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin described the event as “inappropriate” and “a waste of time”. Several Muslim nongoverment groups made plans to protest the festival.
Pang Khee Teik, festival spokesman of “Sexual Independence”, said many Malaysian gays and transsexuals are forced to “live a lie” because of discrimination. “Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile,” Pang said in an online statement. “That is why some of us choose to be open, because it’s time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse.”