Malaysian police investigate LGBT activist over UN speech
Malaysian Police are investigating LGBTI rights activist, Numan Afifi, after he reported on the LGBTI rights situation at a UN Human Rights Council session last month.
Police asked Afifi to visit a police station this Friday (26 April) to give a statement, according to a Facebook post.
‘I will not bow down to these acts to harass or intimidate me as a human rights defender in Malaysia’ Afifi wrote on Facebook.
‘I fight for all human rights and will continue doing so.’
There has been rising intolerance of LGBTI people in Malaysia over the last year.
In July last year, Afifi stepped down from his role as press officer for the Youth and Sports Minister due to the threats and abuse he received because of his sexuality.
Afifi delivered a joint statement from 12 LGBTI-related organizations at Malaysia’s Universial Periodical Review of human rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
It said the government had rejected 10 LGBTI rights recommendations recommendations from the UN rights body.
Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism called on police to halt the investigation.
They said it ‘merely serves to highlight the harassment, bullying and discrimination faced by LGBT persons in Malaysia’ according to a Facebook statement.
According to a joint statement by 41 regional rights organizations, Afifi came under fire for labeling government conversion therapy programs ’state-sponsored violence’.
Conversion therapy seeks to change a persons sexuality or gender through therapy or treatment.
Health agencies, governments, and the UN have denounced the practice.
The joint statement defended Afifi’s description as accurate.
It listed programs by a number of government ministries launched to show LGBTI people ’the right path’.
‘These state-sponsored activities deprive LGBT people of their right to live with dignity’ the statement said.
The statement claimed the government position has led to ‘increased aggression, discrimination, and violence against LGBT people in physical spaces and social media’.
It called on the government to end the investigation into Afifi, engage with LGBTI rights groups, and review its current policies.
Religious and political leaders in Muslim-majority Malaysia have whipped up religious fundamentalism to persecute the community.
A Malaysian MP last month raised concerns in parliament over LGBT content on Netflix.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. A colonial-era law punishes gay sex with up to 20 years in prison.
Shariah courts following Islamic law run parallel to the secular judiciary. The country’s tourism minister claimed the country had no homosexuals.
Police have raided gay clubs and arrested individuals.
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Author: Rik Glauert