On “gender confusion” and homosexuality

On “gender confusion” and homosexuality

By Hafidz Baharom

I honestly didn’t want to write on this topic, but it seems that Malaysia is backtracking on whatever progress it has made towards understanding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community thus far.

It started with the fact that a non-government individual shared a picture of a Jakim roadshow planning to head to each and every public university to espouse the evil that is the so-called LGBT agenda a while back.

The fellow also shared a slideshow by one imam who said that LGBTs were caused psychologically and environmentally – something that even a UK Liberal Democrat candidate has said was due to hormones in tap water. 

Although the imam himself alludes to the lack of a father figure, a history of abuse and even porn as factors for homosexuality.

And now, there is apparently a Ministry of Health sponsored contest to come out with a video talking about “gender confusion” as part and parcel of their campaign on sexual health.

On Sunday, a session will be held on what would be the future for the LGBT community in the Transformasi 2050 plan. The first question should perhaps be what exactly are we as Malaysians looking at when we mention members of the LGBT community.

Do we see someone who is sick, or just someone who is normal? Most of the world does not view homosexuality as a mental illness anymore, contrary to whatever Malaysians tend to believe for whatever reason they choose to believe it.

Do we see prejudice especially for the transgender community to make ends meet, due to the fact that they are the most visible of the entire community and thus, not able to ‘closet’ themselves even if they wanted to?

I have pointed this out before and will reiterate – the issues of the LGBT community are the same issues facing everyone else, but perhaps with a lot more stigma attached. It is an issue of access to affordable medical treatment, access to education, access to a liveable wage and an affordable cost of living.

All of which are doubled or trebled due to fear of stigma and ostracism. You won’t do any favours telling homosexuals that what they do is against nature (it isn’t), needs to be treated in any way or how, even if it leads to self harm, homelessness, abject poverty and, in the worst case scenario – suicides.

So, let’s start with the basics for what to achieve in 33 years time. How about a non-discrimination clause in each and every government link corporation charter regarding sexual orientation and gender?

How about a similar clause in the civil service?

Also, adult schools and some leeway in identity for applying for tertiary education goes a long way to get these people back on the right track to earning a healthy living. For the former, perhaps the CityLit model in the UK could be a guideline.

These are both under government control and goes a long way to end the stigma against LGBTs, if the government is ever serious about such a matter on a high level.

It’s not gay marriage or even sharing bathrooms and restrooms, but it is what is needed and a good start.

From a legal standpoint, it is simple – abolish Penal Code 377 to show that whatever is done in anyone’s bedroom is of no concern for civil law. I won’t even begin to start discussing sharia law because that’s an argument that will take centuries.

But more importantly, perhaps the government from a medical and secular international standpoint should start with a framework to answer this question – why is a gay person gay, and why is a transgender a transgender?

Because honestly, I see more arguing this from a religious standpoint rather than one based on actual scientifically proven theories and theses. Who makes up the basis of this framework? Are they credible academics, or those doing it purely on a non-scientific basis?

Whose academic papers are they using? Are these sources also credible or have been proven wrong?

We keep wanting to talk about sexuality from a personal stand point under the influence of religion rather than science, perhaps because the latter offends our long held truths or even challenges our view point and comfort zones – but that is what progress must and should do.

Other than that, it also seems that the academic and scientific circle, as well as the more religious supposed academic circles, are both excluding one another from joining in the same discussion. This needs to end.

Knowledge is knowledge, either from a religion or academic observations spanning decades when it comes to sexuality and gender issues. The sooner Malaysia makes both of these sides sit down and thrash it out – hopefully in a polite and academic way – the better.

Because as of now, 33 years in the future seems a dim prospect in Malaysia just treating humans as humans and accepting nature as nature, which will only lead this issue to be stuck in a roundabout while others progress ahead of us.

And if such is the case, then be prepared for the same issues of sexual health, homelessness, poverty and even perhaps increased emigration, to continue and further erode the country.

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