Tun Mahathir:Pride and Persecution LGBT Global
Violence is not a typical topic for Pride celebrations. It is wonderful that we can celebrate the millions of people who live in states and cities that have marriage equality or civil unions. We rejoice with same gender loving couples who now announce their anniversaries at church or synagogue.
I, too, like to focus on the positive. There are many blessings I enjoy as the head of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). We serve the LGBT world from coast to coast and in close to 40 countries. We truly do celebrate the progress we have made with more than 50 percent of the country supporting marriage equality — but we tell the truth too. And the truth can be ugly. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has cautioned his daughter to be wary of her outspokenness as well as support for groups like Bersih and sexuality rights movements, saying these may affect her family members who are still active in politics.
The forthright Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir has disagreed with her father on occasion, most notably her consistent support for the electoral reforms group. She had participated in the last two Bersih rallies in the city capital.
“I do hope she will realise what she is doing is not good for herself, not good for the government party at least. She should also be sensitive about her brother who is contesting in the election,” Dr Mahathir said, referring to his son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is currently international trade and industry deputy minister.
The former prime minister said this in an interview with online television station The Malaysian Observer (MobTV).
“She doesn’t care about what people think. I care about what people think… if not, I won’t get anywhere.
“Maybe it’s because she has no ambition so she speaks her mind. I cannot agree with the things she is doing, but nowadays you cannot tell your children ‘please stop this, please stop that’; they have a mind of their own,” said the country’s longest-serving prime minister.
Dr Mahathir said while he respected her stand on speaking up for the underprivileged, he did not like the idea of her “associating” herself with Bersih whose agenda, he believed, has been “hijacked” by the opposition.
He also told his daughter to draw a limit to how much support should be given towards the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LBGT) community.
“She (has) never said she supports this; I hope she doesn’t. She cared for this people…but she has to draw a line between them and the idea that being homosexual is okay, (or that) men marrying men is okay,” he stressed.
I could spare you what I have to say — but there is a part of me that wants you to know — and so I write. I write about the gay rights advocate in South Africa who was murdered and mutilated. I write about the rising number of murders of LGBT people in the U.S. I write about the “kill the gays” bill that is back on the table in Uganda. I write about the hatred of LGBT people in Eastern Europe by religious and governmental authorities. I write about Jamaica where hating gays is a popular topic for music lyrics and where murders areescalating.
Pride and persecution are both real. We rejoice in the good and confront the evil.
Days ago in South Africa, Thapelo Makutle, beloved by family and friends alike, was found dead with his throat cut, his tongue cut out and his genitals cut off and pushed into his mouth. In a typical sign of a hate crime, Thapelo Makutle was over-killed as a threat to all advocates of human rights for LGBT people.
Recently, Ugandan police invaded a workshop on LGBT concerns and arrested participants and announced that 38 NGOs would be de-certified because of their support of LGBT rights –although they are starting to back down due to international outcry and lawsuits. The anti-homosexuality bill, dubbed “kill the gays bill” is back and being pushed by religious and political leaders to become law. Even discussion of LGBT equality or friends and family who do not report their loved once could be fined and imprisoned.
The Anti-Violence Project released their most recent report late last month showing an 11 percent increase in murders of LGBT and HIV-affected people in the U.S. This is a three-year trend of growing lethal violence. People of color comprised 83 percent of these murders and 40 percent were transgender women.
In a recent trip to visit MCC’s ministries in Eastern Europe, I witnessed the sadness, yet resilience, of LGBT people of faith and advocates in the face of family rejection and official condemnation from both government and religion. Pride marchers are always under risk of attack or imprisonment. One Algerian Muslim lives in exile with deep sadness over losing family, country and faith. A Mongolian activist fled for his life to Europe but wonders where his life will lead. So many people live in deep fear of being assaulted, persecuted and exiled.
ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Alliance, recently released its annual mapping of laws related to LGBT people. There continue to be over 70 countries where same-gender love is illegal while more than seven countries or regions allow the death penalty for LGBT people.
As a pastor, I recoil at telling these stories but my leadership in this global effort requires that I stand with those who suffer and whose voice is silent because of fear and persecution. These stories are not just to shock but to compel us to work harder if we have the freedom to work. Our love is part of every culture on every continent.
Hillary Clinton said it well, “Gay people are born into — and belong to — every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths. They are doctors, and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes,” she said. “Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality.”
Our human reality is that we need to speak out against injustice. It makes a difference. Each time Uganda’s right wing has pushed for passage of the “kill the gays” bill, public outcry has blocked it. When European leaders announced that they would not fund countries that imprison or execute gay people, Malawi’s President, Joyce Banda, announced she would not support such laws. Our voices and our leverage make a difference.
Whenever you hear yourself say, “Someone should do something!” Or, “What a shame!”, remember to ask yourself, “What can I do?” Pick up the phone; make a donation; write a letter; post on Facebook or Twitter. The Global Justice Institute of MCC is a group to support as it works for justice in Uganda, Pakistan, Jamaica and other places. We live in a time for maximum return on our efforts — we just have to make the effort. The lives of LGBT people around the world are at stake.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told the United States government last month that he was “disappointed” in President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriages, Putrajaya has revealed.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a written reply to Parliament yesterday that the prime minister (picture) had conveyed the message to US deputy secretary of state James B. Steinberg during his visit to Washington D.C. in mid-May.
“The prime minister also asserted to the US government that religious laws are principles that should be respected and followed, regarding social issues deemed sensitive by faith followers, who form the majority in the US as well as Malaysia,” the ministry said in its reply.
It was responding to a question from Muhammad Husain (PAS-Pasir Puteh), who had asked if the government planned to officially record its protest to Obama’s recent statement in support of marriages among those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, the first such declaration made by a sitting president of the US.
Malaysia will continue to stick by its stand and view on this issue whenever it meets for discussions with the US.”
The ministry however acknowledged that Obama’s statement was the US president’s personal stand on the matter and only applies to the US.
“In principle, the Malaysian government does not interfere in the domestic affairs of foreign nations due to several factors, including the different value system practised by Malaysians.
“As such, it is not necessary for the Malaysian government to protest the US president’s view, which was made in the context of his country’s social issues,” the ministry said.
It was responding to a question from Muhammad Husain (PAS-Pasir Puteh), who had asked if the government planned to officially record its protest to Obama’s recent statement in support of marriages among those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community, the first such declaration made by a sitting president of the US.
The ministry added that Malaysia would neither “tolerate nor cooperate” with any party whether within or outside the country on the issue of LGBT and the community’s rights.
“The Malaysian government stand was made clear when we prohibited the recently planned LGBT protest by groups insensitive to the religious and cultural practices of our local communities,” it said.
Malaysia shares the same view with other OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries regarding LGBT issues, sexual orientation, as well as gender identities, the ministry added.