Activists in Malaysia on Thursday criticized the government’s decision to ban three books for allegedly promoting ” LGBTQ lifestyles “, saying it will further erode gay and transgender rights.
” Jacob’s Room to Choose ,” a children’s book about gender expression and gender identity, was banned in January, the Home Office said in a statement Tuesday.
Harm to morality
In this book, a teacher educates children about gender identity at a school after a pupil wearing a dress feels unwelcome in the boys’ bathroom. Two other children’s books, ” The Tale of Seven ” and ” Aku “, were also banned.
The ministry said its goal was to ” prevent the spread of material that harms the morality of the community .” Homosexuality is prohibited in Malaysia and laws provide for prison sentences, corporal punishment and fines.
Siti Kasim, a prominent Malaysian human rights lawyer, described the book ban as an attempt to ” chise ” the rights of LGBTQ people who have ” always been marginalized and oppressed “.
Thilaga Sulathireh, of transgender rights group Justice for Sisters, said the move was part of ” a broader trend of censorship (seen) over the past few years “. “ Banning these books further narrows the spaces for LGBTQ people to express themselves and be themselves ,” she told AFP, urging the government to “ end discrimination against LGBTQ people ”.
Rise of fundamentalism
In 2017, Walt Disney had given up the release of his new film ” Beauty and the Beast ” in the country after refusing to cut a ” gay scene ” to satisfy censorship. And in 2022, the Marvel movie ” Thor: Love and Thunder ” was banned due to alleged LGBT elements. Malaysia has seen a rise in religious fundamentalism in recent years, causing tensions between conservatives and activists for more rights.
The Muslim-majority country routinely bans posts deemed insulting to Islam, pornographic or morally offensive. Last year, religious officials broke up a large Halloween party attended by members of the LGBTQ community and arrested 20 people, accusing them of cross-dressing and encouraging vice.
Source : Le Figaro