Americas / Asia

Pro-LGBT protests fizzle; anti-LGBT rally screams

It wasn’t a good weekend for LGBT activists.

Anti-LGBT protesters assembled en masse in Malaysia, where homosexuality is illegal, while pro-LGBT forces fell short in their attempts to organize worldwide protests in favor of LGBT rights.

Anti-LGBT protest in Malaysia (Photo courtesy of

Anti-LGBT protest in Malaysia (Photo courtesy of

Judging by online press coverage, plans fell flat for Saturday’s “first-ever Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights March … in over 30 locations across the globe, including Great Britain, South Africa, Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, the Philippines, and several cities in the United States.”

If any of those demonstrations materialized in Pakistan, Uganda and Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal, they didn’t attract much attention.

The biggest media splash was made by the failed march in Washington, D.C., where the Washington Blade headline read, “Less than 20 turn out for D.C. ‘worldwide’ LGBT march.”

In contrast, headlines about the Malaysia rally on Saturday included:

Malaysian law provides for prison sentences of up to 20 years for homosexual activity.

The Malaysian Insider reported that seven Malay non-governmental organisations cooperated in putting on the three-hour-long rally.

Azwan Din Hamzah, president of the primary group organizing the rally, Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, told the crowd that  granting the demands of gay and lesbians would lead to the destruction of the country and religion.

“We want to stop it. We cannot compromise on matters involving faith and religious values,” he said.

Gay Star News reported: “Malaysia LGBT rights activist Pang Khee Teik tweeted: ‘1,000 vent anger at anti-LGBT rally – Further proof … we desperately need a revolution in education’.”

LGBT issues have been a sore point recently in Malaysian politics, which was evident during the rally.  Gay Star News reported:

Much of the speakers’ anger was directed at politicians who they deemed to be supporting LGBT rights.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was cleared of the charge of sodomy in court earlier this year was targeted, as was former president of the Malaysian Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan who won US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s International Women of Courage award in 2009 and poet and novelist A Samad Said who joined, with Ambiga, the Bersih 2.0 rally for clean and fair elections in Malaysia in July 2011.

Malaysiakini reported that organizers of the rally criticized Abdul Samad Said and Ambiga Sreenavesan for allegedly supporting “the LGBT movement.”

The country recently launched a program to train counselors “to tackle the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) phenomenon in the country,” Sun Daily reported.

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