KUALA LUMPUR,. The rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LBGT) have nothing to do with religion, Klang MP Charles Santiago said today.
The DAP lawmaker said that his press statement showing solidarity with pro-LGBT campaigner Numan Afifi Saadan, who has since resigned as Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s press aide, is in line with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
“Unfortunately, many people have twisted my statement into a religious matter, calling me derogatory names. The demeaning name-calling and subtle threats are the same that the LGBT community endures in the country and in their homes,” Charles said in a statement.
He countered allegations that he was anti-Islam, pointed out that he fought “tooth and nail” for Rohingya Muslims to obtain citizenship rights, condemned their persecution by the Burmese government, and led a delegation of Asean parliamentarians to refugee camps in Bangladesh on a fact-finding mission.
“The government has a duty to protect the rights of all citizens irrespective of their sexuality and gender identity. But laws that work against the rights of the minority community create obstacles for the government to do so,” Charles said.
He called upon the government to decriminalise homosexuality and repeal all laws discriminating against the LGBT community.
“In asking for decriminalisation, I advocate for the safeguarding of the civil liberties of this minority group,” Charles said.
He stressed the need to be inclusive, embrace diversity, and respect those who are different from the majority.
“We need to understand that everyone has a right to live in an environment that is free from fear and hatred. As the celebrated Indian poet and writer Rabindranath Tagore said, let my country awake to that heaven of freedom,” said Charles.
Numan, who has publicly advocated for LGBT rights, announced his resignation from Syed Saddiq’s office today amid controversy surrounding his purported appointment.
The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) lawmaker said in response that he respected Numan’s decision and that Numan would “always be a bro”.