KUALA LUMPUR: Portraits of two lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists at an exhibition in the George Town Festival were taken down to comply with the government’s policy of no promotion of LGBT culture, said Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said he had ordered for the portraits of Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik to be removed.
But Dr Mujahid said he had no issues with people who chose to practise LGBT activities, as long as they do not promote such activities in society.
“I have made my stand clear from the start.
“We do not interfere in their personal life but as the government, our concern is whether there is any breach of law or any promotion of the culture.
“The inclusion of the two activists in the festival is not in line and accepted as the new government policy.
“If no action is taken, the exhibition will be seen as challenging the policy,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby yesterday.
Checks showed Nisha and Pang’s photos, posing with the Malaysian flag, were taken down from the Stripes and Strokes exhibition at the Dewan Sri Pinang in George Town, Penang.
The month-long event by photographer Mooreyameen Mohamad featured 28 portraits of citizens posing with the Jalur Gemilang, including DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and other civil rights activists such as Siti Kasim.
According to the festival’s website, the photographs were shot and exhibited last year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence.
Dr Mujahid noted that the captions accompanying the portraits of both activists, was a clear promotion of the LGBT culture.
“I have no issue with the pictures but the flag symbol indicates the struggle, and the image is featured in a public gallery.
“We received negative comments on the photos and I am worried there will be some anti-LGBT groups who will try to hurt them.
“I want everyone to be protected. There are still laws and policies to be followed in this new Malaysia,” he said.
Exhibition sponsor Datuk Vinod Sekhar said he was disappointed it has been reduced to “an instance to show politicians, cowering from the noise of the ignorant”.
Vinod, who is the president and group chief executive officer of Petra Group, said he was not a supporter of LGBT groups.
“I did not notice Pang was holding a rainbow flag. But is that little flag so threatening?
“Is the faith of some people so weak that the sight of the flag would shake them?” Vinod asked.
Klang MP Charles Santiago called for the portraits to be reinstated and pledged solidarity with Pang and Nisha.
“This is indicative of a larger issue, where we continue to deny the LGBT community their rights, opting instead to marginalise and discriminate against them,” he said in a statement.
Social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said both sides should sit down together to better understand one another.
“Have a good discussion before issuing statements. We should not say things that could hurt other Malaysians,” he said.