For Malaysia’s embattled LGBTQI+ community, the promise of a new era with the change of government last year is yet to materialise


Shortly after Malaysia’s historic election in May, transgender activist Nisha Ayub and gay rights activist Pang Khee Teik had their portraits displayed at an art gallery in the city of Penang. The exhibition celebrating 60 years since Malaysia’s independence featured prominent people posing with the country’s flag. But days after the images provoked a social media debate, the new Minister of Islamic affairs Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered the portraits be taken down, saying the country would not support the promotion of “LGBT culture”. Last year, Malaysia’s government changed for the first time in the 61 years since independence. The shock election result ushered into power the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition for the first time.

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