Police in Kuala Lampur have ordered gay rights activists in the Muslim-majority country to shut down the “Sexual Independence” festival has been held since 2008 because this year the festival titled themed “Queer Without Fear” focused on LGBT discrimination and acceptance.
The five-day festival which was set to start Nov. 9 at a private arts center afeatured planned musical performances of “queer anthems sung by local singers and drag divas who know what it means to love out loud and proud, and also included plans for talks on sexuality issues, a poster exhibition and a makeup workshop by a drag queen. One session was titled “Defense Against The Dark Arts: Homophobia 101.” organizers said.
After criticism by the deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who called the event “inappropriate” and a “waste of time,” and plans by several Muslim nongovernment groups to protest, police ordered the event to be canceled.
Authorities will “prevent any function relating to the program,” deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.
“Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile … it’s time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse,” festival spokesman Pang Khee Teik said in an online statement posted Thursday before the event was banned and there has been no further statement.