Repurposed from an email sent to an active Malaysian mailing list.
Some friends and I got together to write a simple memo about some recent articles in tabloids like Kosmo! and papers like The Star and Berita Harian that demonise the queer community, specifically in the context of exposés on lesbian parties in town. These articles reflect a trend of stigmatization against queers in the mainstream press that encourages continued violence and discrimination against sexual minorities. We submitted said memorandum to SUHAKAM last week, and we’re looking to get 1000 signatures for our online petition by the end of the month.
You can sign that petition (text below this email) here:
“Memorandum on Ill Representation and Discrimination of the Queer Community in the Media | Memorandum berkenaan diskriminasi dan representasi yang mengaibkan komuniti LGBTIQ dalam media” :
I hope you’ll sign and encourage other pals and allies to sign on too.
Memorandum to Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
June 10, 2010
We refer to the articles published in Kosmo! (“Parti Lesbian Berleluasa”) and the Harian Metro (“Aksi Panas Pengkid, Lesbian”) dated 2nd and 16th May respectively.
We, the undersigned, are enraged by the usage of disparaging words such as “songsang” (deviant), “lucah” (lewd) and “jijik” (disgusting) in the newspaper reports to describe the queer community. The words used by Kosmo! and the Harian Metro and echoed by other newspapers (such as The Star, 3 May 2010) are heavily loaded with moral connotations and paint the queer community unjustifiably and unfairly as deviants and morally tainted.
These recent attacks were first and foremost attacks on sexual rights and, by extension, on human rights. The claim and exercise of these rights are integral to a person’s identity and self-worth and do not in any way contribute to general misconduct or a decline in moral values as wrongly implied by these journalists and newspapers. The continued stigma and discrimination perpetuated by the media towards the queer community (more pronounced since August 2003 when a memorandum was sent to Suhakam then) shows that Suhakam has done nothing to effectively uphold the human rights of the queer community as Malaysians of equal status.
These attacks were also a violation of privacy since these gatherings were by invitation only and exclusive to the queer community concerned.
Besides those two articles which were published recently in Harian Metro and Kosmo!, more than a dozen of articles have been published this year alone in local newspapers (please refer to attachment). These articles are reflective of an ongoing hostile trend by the media towards people of different sexual orientation and gender identity, in complete disregard for their human rights.
We strongly condemn journalists and newspapers who use unscrupulous tactics to obtain their stories and who further rely on sensationalism and titillation to sell their newspapers. We consider these journalists and newspapers unethical and unprofessional because they break the profession’s own standards of good reporting.
Both journalists and editors should be aware of the impact and consequences of how the news is reported especially when it comes to news about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities where unethical and biased reporting only instigates hate and violence towards the queer community. Creating and encouraging an environment of hate and violence is criminal. As a result of such irresponsible reporting, private spaces are being invaded and violated, thus making it harder and harder for the queer community to enjoy their human rights just like other Malaysians.
In light of our urgent concerns, we repeat our call since 28 August 2003, and urge Suhakam:
First, to push for the protection of the human rights of individuals perceived or identified lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transsexual, transgendered, queer, under the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Second, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that outlaw and criminalise mutually consensual sexual behaviour between adults.
Third, to further educate citizens on constitutional provisions for the protection of the human rights of citizens and non-citizens, and to further educate the public on the spirit and core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Yogyakarta Principles.
Fourth, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that restrict freedom of expression and freedom of information.
We hope that together, we will all be able to protect the democratic principles enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, and strengthen the practice of a truly humane, participatory democracy in Malaysia.