Malaysia accused of 'state-sponsored homophobia' after LGBT crackdown

In the early hours of Saturday, the police and government officials raided a small nightclub in Kuala Lumpur.

The venue, Blue Boy, was known to be popular with the LGBT community, but for years had been relatively left alone by the authorities. Until the weekend. Twenty men were detained and ordered into counselling for “illicit behaviour” by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department of Malaysia (JAKIM).

Government minister Khalid Samad later released a statement on the motivations behind the raid. “Hopefully this initiative can mitigate the LGBT culture from spreading into our society,” he said.

It sent a clear signal to the LGBT community. Thilaga Sulathireh, co-founder of trans rights group Justice For Sisters, says: “We are under attack in an unprecedented way.”

Just two days before the raid, a trans woman was brutally beaten on the street in Seremban while seven others watched. The attack left her with broken ribs, a broken backbone and a ruptured spleen.

In the same week, a sharia court ordered a lesbian couple to be caned after they were caught having sex in a car, the first time in years such a punishment had been handed out in Malaysia. The judge said it was “a lesson and reminder to not just the two of you, but the members of society”.

The general election in May has been celebrated for ushering in a new era, but the new government’s first 100 days in power have been marked by increased discrimination, harassment and violent hate crime against the LGBT community. Read more via the Guardian