By Arina Rhsky
It’s just my opinion.
The recognition, acceptance and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community has been one I’ve always struggled with intellectually since I was a child, especially being Muslim. The first thing I did to clarify my confusion? Actually reading up and listening to trusted Islamic scholars on what exactly our religion states and drawing a parallel between that and Islamic themes I’ve learnt throughout the years. This includes love and compassion for all living things and to never be judgmental or belittle anyone.
On the subject of same-sex marriage
As Muslims, we have to realize that only sexual intercourse between equal genders is a sin, not simply having non-heterosexual tendencies. Even so, it holds the same place as fornication on the “sin ladder”. Of these two there is no one sin worse than the other. However, the distinction is usually drawn on the permissibility of only heterosexual marriages in Islam. Thus, I can never be an advocate for same sex marriage as it would be against my religious beliefs. But, I would never go against my government’s decision of legalizing it. Why? Because this would break a genuinely democratic decision in that setting and go against a main principle of Islam; peace.
In a religious country like Malaysia, pushing for LGBTQ+ marriages would not only disrupt the goodwill of our society but derail the importance of protecting our LGBTQ+ community first. However, here are 4 reasons why we should protect our communities irrespective of their sexuality:
4 Reasons Why
The 2015 Human Rights Watch World Report stated that “discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is pervasive in Malaysia” and how “transgender persons face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, discriminatory denial of health care and employment, and other abuses” . Anyone would agree that no human being deserves such atrocious treatment. We must not tip toe around the fact that their human rights are violated, because of their sexual orientation.
Further, we must address that this partly stems from our discriminatory labels of the LGBTQ+ community. We must take responsibility and call out people who use derogatory terms such as pondan , mak nyah and pengkid used by family members and friends. Not only does this severely disconnect them from social spheres but creates a vacuum of emotional support which would otherwise be filled by friends and family members. It is much more effective to convince those closest to us rather than strangers on a mass scale. If everyone took this initiative, a Pandora’s box full of confusion would be fairly resolved.
Even more worrying, is the shameless stereotyping of the LGBTQ+ community by our very own newspapers. They falsely state that gay men are easy to identify because of their love of beards, going to the gym – not for exercise but to check out other men – while lesbians tend to hug each other. Not only are these remarks homophobic and unfounded but also “take away lives” according to activist Arwind Kumar.
We must also realise that however best we perceive our ideals and policies on the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, their own opinions are rarely included in the conversation. As such, we as a nation should start embracing a more open and inclusive approach to this issue. For example, by having exchanges between members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as representatives from various racial and religious backgrounds in hopes of finding a common ground between us all. With all of this in mind, only can we create the much needed support for our nations’s LGBTQ+ community. Expressing views about faith and religious belief are not incompatible with living peacefully with gender-fluid individuals. The drawback of this only occurs when one tries to aggressively act on their own personal agenda rather than communicate a friendly reminder. Remember, this is not about me, or you, it revolves around us and how we can contribute to make our communities safer and prejudice-free.
1 Human Rights Watch. (2015) “World Report 2015: Malaysia” Retrieved from: hps://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/malaysia
2 Ellis-Peterson, H. (Feb 2018) “Malaysian newspaper publishes ‘how to spot a gay’ checklist” Retreived from: hps://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/malaysian-newspaper-sinar-harian-publishes-how-to -spot-a-gay-lgbt-checklist
3 Wootson, C. (Feb 2018) “A Malaysian newspaper published a how-to-spot-gays checklist, sparking fears of a witch hunt”. Retrieved from: hps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/12/a-malaysian-newspaper-published-a-how-to -spot-gays-checklist-sparking-fears-of-a-witch-hunt/?utm_term=.019554339e48
4 Kumar, A. (Feb 2018) “MY RESPONSE TO SINAR HARIAN’S ‘LGBT TRAITS’. Retrieved from: ” hps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_eZp9lgz3o