In Malaysia, Conservative Forces and Police Crackdowns Are Putting LGBTQ Lives at Risk

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04/17/2023

On March 12, activists across Malaysia converged on the capital of Kuala Lumpur to take part in the latest iteration of the Women’s March, a yearly protest seeking to raise awareness of gender issues in the country. This year’s iteration of the march, the first to be held in person since pandemic restrictions were progressively lifted across Malaysia starting in May of last year, focused on equal pay and an end to child marriage. For several protesters, attending the march had unintended legal consequences, as over a dozen attendees were later questioned by local authorities for their involvement in the rally, specifically for waving rainbow flags. These police investigations represent yet another chapter in the long saga of official crackdowns on LGBTQ activism and queer-centered events in Malaysia. The backlash against the presence of LGBTQ activists at the march further escalated when Wan Razali Wan Nor, a Member of Parliament (MP) for the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, condemned the rally for being a pro-LGBTQ event during a parliamentary session held two days later. Wan Razali was subsequently reprimanded by parliamentary speaker Johori Abdul after admitting he was unsure whether the event was, in fact, openly advertised as a queer event.

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