LGBT activist Numan Afifi quits as Syed Saddiq's press officer

PETALING JAYA: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist Numan Afifi Saadan says he has no choice but to step down as Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman's interim press officer following backlash over his activism.

In a statement on Monday (July 9), Numan said the backlash and threats from the "opposition propagandists" have made it impossible for him to exercise his duties.

"Therefore, I have decided not to work with the Ministry in any official capacity," he said, adding that he will be handing over his task to a new press secretary who will be officially appointed soon.

Numan clarified that he was never officially appointed by the Youth and Sports Ministry, despite his name appearing on its official website.

His name had reportedly been listed on the ministry’s website as "special officer", but was subsequently removed.

"In regards to the issue of several names appearing on the Ministry’s official website, I was informed that there are elements of sabotage and an investigation is being conducted," he said.

"I was made to be understood by the Minister that stern action will be taken against the culprit," he added, asking an end to the controversy.

He also thanked Syed Saddiq for the stint and opportunity.

"Syed Saddiq has respected my decision and stands firm against any form of discrimination, therefore I would like to ask for this polemics not be dragged any further.

"Hopefully, we get to live as a community in Malaysia that cherishes diversity without prejudices," he said.

Syed Saddiq came under fire last week after critics voiced out against Numan as being 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 a government staff member.

In response, LGBT activists said it would be a clear case of workplace discrimination if Numan loses his job.

"Letting go of an employee this way signals to companies and employers in Malaysia that it is okay to dismiss or not hire LGBT staff, which is already a reality for many of us," Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik said. 

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) said Pakatan Harapan must fulfil its manifesto that promises to "create a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected globally". 

"Yet, when it comes to appointing an officer under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, instead of appointing someone based on their merits, they are being evaluated based on their personal life choices, which have zero effects on their attitude towards their job," secretary-general Vennusha Priyaa said.

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