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LGBTIQ: Marginalised Communities Face Threats of Violence and Barriers To Health Services Due to Discrimination – Azrul Mohd Khalib

Anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric may cause an escalation of harmful and discriminating actions and promote violence.

A stethoscope with a rainbow ribbon. Photo credit: ADragan/Shutterstock

The spate of statements and hate speech by Members of Parliament from both sides of the Dewan Rakyat during the recent parliamentary meeting is viewed with concern and alarm. 

The various disparaging, discriminatory and bigoted comments which came out during the SUHAKAM report debate are harmful, as they imply that society needs to be protected from LGBTIQ communities and should act against them.

Such anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric has real-world consequences on people and communities. They may cause an escalation of harmful and discriminating actions and promote violence.

These communities, which include persons of different gender diversity and sexual orientation, often encounter sexual harassment, discrimination, and face threats of physical and emotional violence.

In some extreme documented assault cases over several years in Klang, Seremban, and Kuantan, several transgender women have been seriously injured or lost their lives. Perpetrators of such targeted abuse often act with impunity and escape unpunished.

“Such sentiments and threats create obstacles and barriers for those needing health services,” said Mitch Yusmar Yusof, a senior fellow at the Galen Centre and executive director of SEED Foundation.

“Fear and discrimination discourage them from seeking treatment and care; They may have trouble finding alternative health care services if they are turned away. Where is our compassion?

“The LGBTIQ communities have been and will always be a valuable and essential part of Malaysia’s diverse society, a part of our history, country and her people,” he stressed.

Article 8 of the Constitution states that all persons are equal under the law and that there should be no discrimination against citizens on the grounds of gender.

These are fundamental rights under both the Malaysian federal constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As Members of Parliament, they, more than anyone else, should know that everyone is protected by the law and there is no room for harassment and threats against anyone regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or nationality. 

One should not be subject to inequality by virtue of their sexual orientation. Proposing any legislation which may deprive a person of such protection is heinous. 

Malaysia’s position in the Global Trans Rights Index as the second worst out of 203 countries regarding transgender rights is not something to be proud of. Instead it is an indicator of a high level of injustice towards marginalised and vulnerable populations.

Azrul Mohd Khalib is the chief executive of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.

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