Protesters raised placards during a demonstration against the Seksualiti Merdeka festival outside a mosque in Shah Alam on Nov 4, 2011. (Mohd Rasfan / AFP Photo)
Blogger Just Read today highlighted a letter the Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak yesterday, in which the organisation urged Najib to reverse the government's ban on the Seksualiti Merdeka festival.
The letter carried the names of HRW's Asia Division deputy director Phil Robertson and its director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights ProgrammeGraeme Reid.
"By its banning of Seksualiti Merdeka," the group said in the letter, reprinted in full at Just Read, "the government has seriously harmed Malaysia’s claims to being a country that celebrates unity in diversity. You can reverse that blatant act of discrimination by immediately ending the ban, and by investigating and prosecuting threats against the LGBT community. And by acting promptly to abolish the country’s discriminatory laws, genuine progress can be made in promoting a Malaysia that respects the rights of all Malaysians."
On its website, where it published the letter, HRW added remarks from another member of the organisation, Boris Dittrich: “On Human Rights Day last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon all countries to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults.”
“Malaysia is long overdue in responding to that and other calls by the international community to end its discriminatory behavior," Dittrich said, "and the government should repeal its ‘unnatural offenses’ laws immediately.”