PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago (pic) has stood up for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist Numan Afifi Saadan.
Santiago was one of the few politicians to publicly pledge solidarity with Numan, saying in a statement on Monday (July 9) that the culture of hatred has to stop.
He added that the "systemic discrimination must stop under the new government or Malaysia will continue to be a hostile place for the LGBT community".
Santiago added that all laws that discriminate against the LGBT community need to be repealed for Malaysia to be in line with the resolution of the United Nations Human Rights council and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The Government has a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, irrespective of their sexuality and gender identity," he said.
In standing up for Numan, Santiago himself became a target of cyber-bullying as Malaysians flooded his post with comments accusing him of being anti-Islam.
"Stop your nonsense, LGBT is a sickness that needs to be cured not celebrated," one commenter said.
In response to this, Santiago said that his statement has been twisted.
"It has nothing to do with religion. For those of you who think I am anti-Islam, let me share with you that I fought tooth and nail for citizenship rights for the Rohingya Muslims," said Santiago.
He added that he led a delegation of Asean parliamentarians to the refugee camps in Bangladesh on a fact-finding mission.
On Monday (July 9), Numan Afifi announced that threats from the "Opposition propagandists" have made it impossible for him to exercise his duties.
The growing backlash on Numan forced him to resign as Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman's interim press officer.
He came under fire last week after critics said that Numan was the organiser of a Pride Day breaking of fast event held in 2017.
They insisted that it is inappropriate for a "champion of LGBT causes" to be part of government staff.
Syed Saddiq responded saying that Numan was not officially appointed and the Ministry was still interviewing potential candidates for the position.