In Defence of Seksualiti Merdeka

Tired of “ultraconservatives” using terms like national security or public morality  “as a shield to continue to abuse fundamental rights as they wish”? So is Batu 5.

The nation is restless.

The ban on Sexuality Merdeka reflects the growing intolerance of differences in beloved Malaysia. It is worrisome considering the misunderstandings that the public has on what Sexuality Merdeka actually is. The police ban was greeted with ceremony and joy from the Malaysian public.

The proliferation of homosexuality has been curbed! A venereal disease prevented, by the swish of a pen decreeing a ban on activities related to the scourge which is the LGBT.

This is an article to defend the fundamental right of association of marginalized communities. The objective of Sexuality Merdeka is not to tell others to be a homosexual. It is essentially a form of engagement, a discourse if you will, to highlight the plights and tribulations that LGBTs face.

Most of us are unaware of the realities of what these isolated minorities, living within the peripheries of the majority endure. Even I am incapable of comprehending the stigma, the suffocation and the struggles that afflicts LGBT groups. Hence, Sexuality Merdeka serves to be a bridge of understanding that seeks to connect the silent majority and the disenfranchised communities.

Most of us are aware of the legal discrimination that they face (as prescribed under written law). However, the more pressing concern is the hidden discrimination that we don’t see; the social discrimination that they face. The difficulty in obtaining employment due to sexual orientation, the perception and treatment meted out by society at large just because they’re different. Born differently, perceive differently, live differently and thus treated differently.

The sanctimonious behaviour of the authorities in decrying the event as a salacious Sex Festival demonstrates their parochial view on what Sexuality Merdeka actually is all about. This view has led to a prohibition of the event. Unfortunately, this skewed characterization is bought by the public.

My colleagues, when asked on their opinion of the ban, went on a tirade on how homosexuality is a blatant contradiction to religious teachings and what religious scriptures say.

“It is unnatural”

“Mana boleh orang sejenis bersama!”

“Look at what happened to Prophet Lut’s people.”

However, that’s not the issue. By going there you don’t automatically become a homosexual. And you have the ability to not go if you wish. What’s wrong with a bunch of plays, talks and workshops which serves as a platform to inform the public of what LGBTs have to endure? You cannot pretend that these communities don’t exist and treat them as if they’re invisible.

The justification given by the authorities to ban this event screams of bigotry. It is an affront to “public morality” and against “national security” they say. The protection of public morals is treated premium over individual liberty.

I’m tired. I’m tired of ultraconservatives using the veneer of “public morality” and “national security” as a shield to continue to abuse fundamental rights as they wish.  In order to ban something, there must be a tangible harm to others, not a phantasmagorical harm that you think might occur to you!

I believe that Sexuality Merdeka does not transgress the morals of society. Morality is a subjective concept. What is immoral to a Taliban, is not immoral to a liberal. You might think drinking is immoral and it should be banned but I don’t think it’s immoral and hence think it should be legitimate. So where do we draw the line when prohibiting something?

We draw the line when an act harms another, the Harm Principle as postulated by John Stuart Mills in his essay On Liberty.  We can do whatever we want, even if it harms ourselves as long as we don’t harm others.  This view is confirmed by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr who famously stated that “my freedom to swing my hands and arms ends before it reaches your nose”.

Nothing within Sexuality Merdeka causes a tangible third party harm. Yes, it is a public event but it is done at a private venue, at the Annexe Gallery. The conservative majority has the option not to go if they wish and ignore the festivities. It is neither an imposition of morals nor an imposition of worldview to force acceptance of LGBT rights.

It is not akin to a gay pride parade which happens at the streets. Sexuality Merdeka is a non-confrontational event which invites the public to listen to their grievances. It is not a march demanding for their rights at the middle of the street causing inconveniences to others.

The symbolic gesture of a prohibition is that it de-legitimizes an idea. It sends a message that the object in contention is harmful and dangerous, as it warrants government intervention. A prohibition is generally associated with the need to protect society from the said object/activity e.g drugs, crime.

Sadly, the ban on Sexuality Merdeka indicates that society needs to be protected from a group of marginalized minorities trying to assert their fundamental right to association. From minorities whom tirelessly requests to be understood and be heard.

Essentially, this is what the ultraconservatives want. A ban reinforces the stigma on the minorities. It breaks the traction of demanding for rights that minorities are gaining by whipping up a hysteria on the silent majority to stonewall any form of engagement with discriminated minorities.

The ban is a form of intolerance to diversity. Diversity, a fundamental characteristic of a heterogeneous society. It is a form of imposition of the majority’s moral standards on the minority; essentially a tyranny of the majority. Is this where we are heading to, a country which is more concerned with appeasing utilitarian demands than upholding the constitutional rights of the minority?

I’ll keep on dreaming of the utopian compassionate society.


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Batu 5 is a student in a local university. He writes under a pseudonym for fear of persecution by university administrators. He feels the suffocating grip of the authorities.

Posted on 8 November 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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18 Responses to In Defence of Seksualiti Merdeka

  1. Peace

    Thanks for mentioning the “Law of Nature”. This natural law is determined by nature, or said universal. It’s commonly refers to the behaviour of human nature. And its natural law is what human being capture in supporting scientific theology. Unless homosexuality is supernatural, synthetic, or unnatural, it cannot be considered as not obeying the law of nature. Thus, natural behaviour is characterized by spontaneity from artificiality. Naturality simply suggests the combination qualities of being non-artificial. I’m supposed the definition of “non-artificial” is clear enough. So, is homosexuality among human being artificial? If yes, what about the nature of homosexuality behaviours that are widely spread in the animal kingdoms? Are the behaviours of these natural species not obeying the law of nature? In other words, Homosexuality is natural.

    There’d only be endless agony and pain if this issue is continuously being argued in subjectivity. What we need in an ideal society are compassionate, tolerance, acceptance, open-mindedness and other positive attributes to end prejudice and discrimination. And responsible freedom of human nature is attainable.

  2. true malaysian

    routerria thanks for the link..indeed it gives one a deep thought to themselves…good article! pls read guys http://bedaduz2.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-views-on-

  3. true malaysian

    There is such thing as a law of nature,and its against the law of nature for a human to mate with their own gender.. as your name even suggests,sciencegeek, there's a research on this already,i'm tired of the westerners who are upholding their right as LBGT by saying 'I am born like this' which in fact they are not. They base their argument on this useless reason which anyone can claim so. It's not, in fact lesbians and gays become one due to many other factors,such as sexual abuse,family problems and backgrounds,personality issues,insecurity,peer pressure or social upbringing. Don't make science as your God,but don't make love as a ground either. If only a person was born with two private parts only then I can say they would have rights to determine their sexual preference. The example of animals that you give cannot at all be a good example to match human being. They are animals, they are different,TOTALLY,and by these differences they live according to their nature, and I NEVER HEARD any of a particular animal that lives differently against its nature by that of its fellow members

  4. sciencegeek

    What is this ‘law of nature’ that people keep talking about? No such thing exists. Presumably it means that whatever happens in the natural world (i.e. the world of plants, animals and BBC wildlife documentaries) is good, wholesome, ethically acceptable and morally justifiable. Conversely, anything that is not observed in the natural world is, according to this viewpoint, unnatural and morally objectionable. But just because animals happen to engage in a particular type of behaviour doesn’t mean it is good for humans to copy them (or follow the ‘law of nature’). Certain eagles will idly watch their older, stronger chicks tear a younger, weaker one to shreds. Most animals do not mate for life and are very much sexually promiscuous. Is this also part of the ‘law of nature’? And if it is, does that mean we should condone infanticide and sexual promiscuity (either heterosexual or homosexual)? Besides, there are many things that humans do that clearly contravene this mythical ‘law of nature’. It is unnatural to take vitamin supplements. It is unnatural to engage in leisure activities such as sports. Religion by that account is also unnatural. Heck, it is unnatural to learn to read and write and do complex differential calculus for that matter!

    The problem is that you cannot blindly superimpose the behaviour of non-sentient beings onto the lives of thinking creatures such as ourselves (and vice versa). Love between humans is not the same as the instinct for mutual caring between two ducks, for instance, and is not solely based on a purely reproductive instinct. Using the ‘law of nature’ to denounce the legitimate needs and desires of a certain part of the population simply isn’t a good enough argument.

  5. routerria

    hey, i think i share the same idea as u! but could u give some comments on this piece:
    http://bedaduz2.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-views-on-

    i found this one while googling 4 seksualitimerdeka, n i think it gives strong points to ponder…

  6. true malaysian

    Shame on people who likes to hate other people based on religion,races,sexual preference or whatever,,,we should all hate each other on an individual basis lah..if you know what i meant,,haha.. I dont hate LBGT, but still what happen cannot be turned around back..it has come to my (our) knowledge that there is such an event, as such, i object on this seksualiti merdeka event,,first because of the reasons given by fellow Kickers above on diversity, and because the majorities in malaysia is living in life full of culture and values that we hold as unique..and yes the event is just for them to express themselves,but this is a lil footsteps to wanting more and more rights,to the extend of legally recognised rights.

  7. angryturkey

    "…would appear to be confrontational and scare the silent majority. Sometimes, fighting for rights must be done tacitly and on an underground basis…."
    —————

    indeed! why do these people make so much noise? be so 'to-your-face" in exhibiting their sexual preference? it's the same irritation people have to women who dress sexily in public to exhibit their sexual attraction, no? Why can't the LGBTs go about their lifes decently, quietly like everybody else? Don't strut your preferred sexuality in everyone's faces lah….. and is it really so you cannot get employed becos you are a LGBT or cos you are (1) choosy (2) demanding (3) can't do a bloody good job (4) or just downright irritating??

    • Oats

      Oh don't we just love demonizing other people. It strokes our ego to know that we're morally superior to some. It's okay, I do it too. Nah, but seriously. Noise was only made (and rightfully so) after the perennial Seksualiti Merdeka event was banned. The event, as I understand, had always taken place in private spaces and catered to groups of people who chose to be there. It's not like the attendees planned to march in flamboyant colors all the way to Stadium Merdeka (Oh wait, they weren't even planning to have the event there). Or maybe that's what you think they were doing?

      I myself found out about the event only after Perkasa was making so much noise about religious sensitivity and whathaveyous. And "these people", as you so trivially put it, only "exhibited their sexual preference" after receiving verbal attacks from everywhere, on top of having the event cancelled. Do you propose they not defend themselves against the myriad of criticisms they're getting from people who are clueless to what the event is really about?

      It is in every LGBT person right to strut his/her sexuality as much as it is in your right to have an opinion (regardless of how bigoted it is). Plus, if the Annexe Gallery is really as renowned as it claims to be, do you think the administration would've allowed people to indulge in quote unquote "debauchery" on their premises? Don't know about you but I've known people who were laid off because they are either (1) choosy (2) demanding (3) can't do a bloody good job (4) or just downright irritating and (5) LGBT.

  8. Kickers

    Dude, its not about intolerance to diversity. 'Diversity' has many layers. In this case, the Diversity of sexual preference is not the same as one preference of colours or music genre or fashion. Its much much more serious than that. It is fundamentally against the law of nature. There is not a single mamal ever created which in their nature would be to mate with their own gender. Love alone cannot justify such 'diversity'. Freedom..? That too is not borderless because if it is, mankind will not survive it. Today is about sexual freedom, tomorrow.. freedom for abortion.. another day.. freedom to unlimited partying (sure..why not.. ). Now we have even protected the rights for anyone to be God-less.. How about we march for that.. (don't.. I was just being cynical).

    • Kamilia

      I suppose next you're going to say everyone must believe in fairies, using contraceptives is wrong, Hitler and the Nazis were totally right and gay penguins don't exist (hint : they do).

    • God is masturbating

      "Now we have even protected the rights for anyone to be God-less.. How about we march for that.. (don't.. I was just being cynical)."

      Clearly there is no atheists in Malaysia. *rolleyes*

  9. Jackson Yee CS

    @Batu 5: Wahahahhaha! It wouldn't sound. OK. We shall see how it progress. (*Refrain from commenting further*) LOL!

  10. Batu 5

    tanstaafi: thanks

    Jackson Yee: Personally I wouldn't mind. I'd come, cheer and stuff. However, tactically it wouldn't be sound. It would appear to be confrontational and scare the silent majority. Sometimes, fighting for rights must be done tacitly and on an underground basis. An excellent case study would be on the genesis of Abrahamic religions and how they, when they were a minority persecuted, managed to increase followers by proselytising in secrecy in the early years. Tactics.

  11. Jackson Yee CS

    Batu 5 !!! LOL!!!!!! => "He writes under a pseudonym for fear of persecution by university administrators. He feels the suffocating grip of the authorities." => ROFLMAO.

    If we were to go on a LGBT pride, what do u think? Considering you mentioned

    "It is not akin to a gay pride parade which happens at the streets. Sexuality Merdeka is a non-confrontational event which invites the public to listen to their grievances. It is not a march demanding for their rights at the middle of the street causing inconveniences to others."

  12. tanstaafl

    Good article.