Following the news that two portraits of LGBTI activists were removed from public display at the George Town Festival in Penang on the orders of the country’s Religious Minister, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:
“The removal of these portraits is a deeply discriminatory act grossly at odds with the Pakatan Harapan government’s stated commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusiveness across Malaysian society.
“Unfortunately, it’s a decision that’s entirely in keeping with several of the Minister’s recent announcements, which have demonized LGBTI people and put them at greater risk of harm.
“Malaysia’s new administration must seize the opportunity to set higher human rights standards across the region. This includes ensuring an inclusive, equal and accepting society for LGBTI people.”
The Penang State Government removed the portraits of prominent LGBTI rights activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik after being contacted by Religious Minister Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who told media:
“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.”
Amnesty International released this public statement on 11 July, condemning discrimination against LGBTI people in Malaysia by the country’s politicians.