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: Pang Kee Teik
LGBT activist, Co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka, Director of Art For Grabs and Editor of Queer Lapis
What he stands for: Pang Khee Teik struggled with ‘coming out’ from a very young age. He resorted to religion in hopes of “fixing” himself and his sexuality. But time came when Pang realised that, in order to truly be happy, he had to be himself — a gay man.
Pang is fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community, which, for him, is freedom of speech and to be treated as equals. He continues to do so despite being threatened with arrest by the authorities for the work that he does.