KUALA LUMPUR: Portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists were removed from the George Town Festival on the orders of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa.
In confirming this to Parliament reporters, Dr Mujahid said the portraits of activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik were removed as they were promoting LGBT activities, which were not in line with the Pakatan Harapan government's policies.
"I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures, along with the rainbow pride flag, in a public gallery.
"I contacted the state government to check if the claim is true, and I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Wednesday (Aug 8).
Nisha and Pang's portraits were removed from the month-long Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the George Town Festival in Penang.
Both Nisha and Pang were portrayed holding the Jalur Gemilang in prints captured by photographer Mooreyameen Mohamad.
Nisha was the first transgender woman to receive the International Women of Courage Award in 2016, while Pang is the co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka.
Earlier, Penang state Gender Inclusiveness Committee chairman Chong Eng says she will look into why the portraits of two activists were removed from the photography exhibition which runs from Aug 4 to Sept 2.
She also clarified that the state Gender Inclusiveness Committee was focused on the social and economic roles and needs of men and women, and the committee does not concern itself with sexual orientation.
"However, I don't want to run away from the issue and will look into this.
"It will be ideal if everyone in society values each other based on our abilities and contributions, while people's sexual orientations are simply their personal matter.
"But this is not an ideal world.
"I am told the photographs reflect only patriotism and were not even remotely sensual, but that alone was enough to anger some people," she told The Star on Wednesday (Aug 8).
The exhibition's sponsor, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, was very critical of the decision to remove the photos of the activists.
"How could this happen in Penang? I expected more from the Penang Government. We should be enlightening people, changing their mindsets – not reacting to people who are closed minded," he said.