Recently, pictures of LGBTQ activists, Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik were taken down from the George Town Festival’s (GTF) Stripes and Strokes exhibition.
Photographer Moorayameen Mohamad had taken their photos alongside 26 other citizens of Malaysia holding the Malaysian flag in conjunction with Merdeka, including veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and civil rights leader, Siti Kasim. The exhibition was set to run throughout GTF 2018, a month long festival in George Town Penang, from 4 August to 2 September.
The Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa confirmed that he was the one who made the decision to order GTF to take down the two pictures. According to Malay Mail, Mujahid gone on to say that the two activists were clearly promoting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) “activities”, which he had previously said was not in line with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s policy.
There has been much discussion over social media about this issue, with many who are for the removal saying that the posters showcase “people who promote LGBTQ activities”, while those who are against it say these two activists were not promoting being gay or transgendered but instead are promoting and fighting for the right of LGBTQ people to be treated as equal in Malaysia.
But who are Malaysia’s LGBTQ activists and what exactly are they promoting (read: fighting for)?
Name: Nisha Ayub
Transgender Rights activist, co-founder of The SEED and Justice For Sisters
What she stands for: As one of Malaysia’s most prominent transgender activists, Nisha began her activism work in HIV/AIDS here in Kuala Lumpur when she left Melaka 11 years ago.
However she realised that she could do so much more with the transgender community, so she switched to transgender and human rights activism where she co-founded The SEED and Justice for Sisters.
Despite spending time in a men’s prison and getting beaten there, Nisha stills fights for the community and for her own rights as a Malaysian.