Brain fart: On Orlando

I’m starting a new series of articles called “Brain farts”. They are raw, unedited, unscripted writings on current topics.

The mass murder of over 50 Americans in a gay bar located in Orlando is shocking, and should be condemned by the highest level. The actions of the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, calling 911 and declaring his actions in the name of the Islamic State, makes it an act of terrorism. Of course, it is also an act of homophobia as well.

Can homosexuals be homophobic? Of course they can.

Of course, the shooter/terrorist/homophobe’s father justified his son’s actions by saying that seeing “two men kissing” must have set it off. Well, if two guys making out pissed him off so much, then one wonders what the heck he was doing in the bar to begin with.

Meanwhile, American politicians last week asked President Barack Obama to include more protection for the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in the signatory nations of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which will include Malaysia.

And I personally hope it goes through, to the point that our government strengthens protections for LGBTs or dump the deal. It’s a personal win-win for me.

All of this is happening in the gazetted American Pride Month of June, celebrating LGBT rights. For those who may not know (and obviously many in Malaysia don’t even bother to know), members of the LGBT community overseas have historically and currently continue to contribute to the betterment of the world.

As a computer science graduate from UiTM Shah Alam, I learned of Alan Turing cracking Enigma to his homosexuality and subsequent choice of chemical castration, and then his death by an apple – which is the basis of the Apple Inc logo, by the way.

As someone interested in politics, congressman Barney Frank remains one of my favourite politicians. Well, there’s him and then there’s Bernie Sanders.

Unfortunately back in Malaysia, such acts of violence against LGBTs are in fact condoned by the majority of the Malay diaspora which makes up 60 percent of the national population. You won’t have to go far to read what I mean, just browse Siakap Keli’s Facebook post regarding the news and you will see the homophobic Malaysian Malay mentality in all its glory.

While Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has openly stated his shock at what has happened on the other side of the world, his actions in our country encourage those who wish violence and even justify the killing of human beings over sexual orientation and gender.

Let us admit it, Najib has had his mind set up on using the LGBT community, pluralists and even liberals as scapegoats in winning votes of the conservative Malaysian Muslim majority. And it has worked for ages since the nation’s population itself has shifted to become more conservative.

That being said, is there truly any shock on how the Malaysian Malay community reacted to the mass murder of gays in America, Syria or even anywhere in the world?

In the past few months, we saw a closed door event featuring the Malaysian transgender community raided by the religious authorities in Kuala Lumpur without police presence, currently being argued as both unwarranted and illegal.

On top of this, you have a Minister Jamil Khir Baharom who openly says in parliament that members of the LGBT community are mentally ill – something that the World Health Organisation has disagreed with for 26 years. In fact, Jamil’s deputy even argued that a trip to Paris was to fight against LGBT rights.

Which even got laughed at by former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad himself.

But I’ve said this before and I will say it again; the fight for LGBT rights is a fight for basic human rights. It is a fight against discrimination just as much as it is a fight for justice against perpetrators who insist on using the issue for political gain and to spark violent pogroms in the so-called name of racial and religious unity.

It is purely a fight to live in peace, with equal protection under the law, with the ability to get jobs and earn a decent living regardless of who you sleep with or even which gender you are. And if Malaysians are not ready to face such, then the government should take the lead and do some actual governing rather than kowtow to what they know is wrong.

Unfortunately, this is Malaysian politics. You will note that there was not a single outcry or statement out from any member of parliament on the matter, just a faux “shocked” prime minister.


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