How Malaysian newspapers are fueling LGBTI hatred

protesters in colourful hijabs protesting on the street

For the second time this month, LGBTI rights advocates in Malaysia have condemned the media for its coverage of LGBTI issues.

At least three local newspapers have been criticized for their coverage of a transgender woman who appeared in court this week.

The Malay Mail misgendered the woman throughout. The English-language paper referred to the trans woman as a ‘male tourist’.

Malay-language daily Astroawani, meanwhile, used the degrading term ‘bapuk’ to describe the woman.

Transgender activist Nisha Ayub told Gay Star News the word ‘bapuk’ is very offensive to the community.

She likened it to words like faggot and tranny in English.

’The media could be our downfall,’ she told Gay Star News.

LGBTI photos removed from expo

Portraits of LGBTI activists which were removed from an exhibition in Malaysia | Photo: Facebook

‘Pollute’ and ‘infect’

Malaysia, where gay sex is illegal, is becoming less and less tolerant of its LGBTI population.

The country has seen a crackdown on LGBTI individuals spurred by the religious fundamentalism of politicians.

Organizers of a Women’s March earlier this month are being prosecuted after they included demands for LGBT rights.

‘LGBT practices will never be accepted in this country’, a government official also said.

It comes after the country’s leader last year said LGBT rights were a Western concept and not for Malaysia.

The Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia, meanwhile, criticized coverage of the march by local press.

They called out two dailies for using words such as ‘pollute’ and ’infect’ in headlines about the LGBTI population.

‘Show some empathy’

Ayub told Gay Star News the media is not helping decrease hatred against the LGBTI community.

She said they often use degrading terms simply to sell papers.

‘They are actually creating more stigma’ Ayub explained. ‘The media nowadays has the power to influence everyone’ she explained.

Ayub said the media plays an important role in educating people.

But, she admitted, ’the portrayal of the community has always been to the negative side’.

‘As a journalist, you should respect other people’ she urged. ’Show some empathy and be ethical’.

LGBT activist Pang Khee Teik, meanwhile, called out the Malay Mail on Facebook.

He said newspaper articles should ‘reflect [their] own journalistic integrity’.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post How Malaysian newspapers are fueling LGBTI hatred appeared first on Gay Star News.

Do Thai politicians really care about LGBTI issues?

Thailand's first trans female candidate for prime minister campaigns in central Bangkok (Photo: Facebook)

After half a decade of military junta rule, up to 52 million Thais will head to the polls this weekend.

It is unclear how much political power the generals will concede. But, nearly 80 parties and more than 2,700 candidates are competing for votes in the polls.

Seven million youngsters will be voting for the first time.

The elections are also, on the face of things at least, the most LGBTI-inclusive yet.

Most political parties have included LGBTI policies, such as same-sex partnerships, in their manifestos.

What’s more, a trans woman has made history by running for prime minister.

‘This is the first time we’ve seen LGBT issues raised in party policies’ explained Kath Kangpiboon, transgender activist and University lecturer.

A lot of LGBTI people are also running for office, she said. ’Politics need an LGBT space’.

But, experts warn, politicians may only be giving lip service to LGBTI issues.

Predominantly-Buddhist Thailand is conservative, but the country is becoming more accepting of LGBTI individuals. It has long been an LGBTI tourist destination.

A gay wedding ceremony in Thailand (Photo: Youtube)

A gay wedding ceremony in Thailand (Photo: Youtube)

Same-sex unions and LGBTI education

Late last year, the junta cabinet drafted a same-sex unions bill and passed it to parliament.

While falling way short of marriage equality, it will afford same-sex couples some legal recognition. At the moment, no countries in Asia recognize same-sex unions.

It was widely seen as an effort by the generals to boost popularity ahead of elections. (They also promised to legalize cannabis).

The military’s biggest contender, the Future Forward Party (FFP) has also tried to woo voters with pro-LGBTI policies.

FFP has promised to amend the Civil Code to make marriage between persons rather than a man and a woman.

They’ve also proposed LGBTI-inclusive changes to the curriculum.

Thailand’s LGBTI party

Pauline Ngarmpring made history in these elections by running for Prime Minister.

She’s a member of the pro-LGBTI Mahachon Party.

Ngarmpring and the Mahachon Party have made headlines with their slogan ‘Diversity is Thailand’s Pride’.

The party is fielding more than 20 LGBTI candidates.

What’s more, they have the most progressive policies. They are proposing a law that would allow transgender Thais to change gender with ease.

But, the fringe party is not expected to gain many seats in elections.

Prior to Election Day, Ngarmpring has already had a positive impact on transgender awareness, Kangpiboon said.

’She is an inspiration to the community’ Kangpiboon told Gay Star News. ‘Her motivation and capacity show the ability of trans people. Society will learn to accept gender identity’.

Thai politician Pauline Ngarmpring (Photo: Facebook)

Thai politician Pauline Ngarmpring (Photo: Facebook)

Not a political issue

But, activists and political commentators warn, while politicians are courting the LGBTI vote, there is little dedication to rights-improving policies.

‘LGBT rights have never been properly discussed by political parties in Thailand’ Titipol Phakdeewanich, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Ubon Ratchathani University, told Gay Star New.

While political parties may mention LGBTI issues, he said, their policies lacked any depth.

‘We don’t see a strong determination to tackle LGBT rights issues’ Phakdeewanich said.

Kangpiboon said most political parties love to talk about LGBTI rights to get new voters.

But, she said, ‘I have not seen any promises on LGBT policy. I only see a space to talk about LGBT visibility’.

Author: Rik Glauert

The post Do Thai politicians really care about LGBTI issues? appeared first on Gay Star News.

Teacher bans author’s books because she retweeted a trans support group

a close up shot of Robin Stevens, she has a bob haircut and is wearing rectangle glasses

A children’s author has had her books removed from a school because she once retweeted Mermaids.

Mermaids is a UK charity that supports young trans and gender diverse people.

A post on the notoriously transphobic parenting forum, Mumsnet, began with a mother expressing her annoyance that her teen daughter’s school wanted to support her transition. But her mother did not want her transitioning at that age.

Somehow the thread turned to fiction books for young people when a Mumsnet user, silentcrow, singled out author, Robin Stevens.

Silentcrow began by recommending Stevens’ mystery books, but their recommendation came with a warning.

‘Be aware the author retweets Mermaids – most notably when the recent investigation over lottery funding was happening,’ silentcrow wrote.

‘The most recent book has the main character, at 15, come out as lesbian (obviously not wrong in and of itself but I am automatically suspicious of uncritical support of Mermaids).

‘We have taken the decision not to stock any more of this series in our primary school as the characters are facing challenges more appropriate for older children. It’s sad because I genuinely like the books up to this point but we won’t endorse thoughtless wokery.’

#ThoughtlessWokery

Stevens found out about the post from a friend. Even though not officially affiliated with Mermaids, Stevens has donated money to them. Stevens said ‘I’m very supportive of the great work they do with transgender and gender diverse children and their families’.

‘The thing I found upsetting was not that they disagreed with me, but that they were using the disagreement as a reason to ban my books in their school,’ Stevens told Gay Star News.

‘My support for Mermaids has nothing to do with the books I write, and the fact that one of my main characters comes out in my latest book does not make my series any less appropriate for primary-school aged children.’

People came out in support of Stevens, buying her books and letting her know they loved her work.

‘I’ve been overwhelmed by positive responses from young queer readers (and young allies) about Daisy’s coming out – it was a plot point that felt important to me to write, but it clearly means even more to them,’ she said.

‘Seeing a character who they can relate to in a popular children’s book series has given them a lot of joy and confidence, and it’s deeply saddening that both straight and queer kids at this teacher’s school won’t have the chance to read the book.’

Thinking again of the children, Stevens hoped the children had the access to support they need ‘whatever their identity’,

‘My generation lost so much because LGBTQ+ identities weren’t discussed with us – I don’t want that mistake to be repeated with this generation, and that’s a big part of why I write the books I do,’ Stevens said.

Death in the Spotlight

One of the books singled out on the Mumsnet post was Stevens’ Death in the Spotlight. The story features Daisy Wells, a 15-year-old detective who comes out as queer in the book.

Stevens understood why it was so important to feature queer characters in books.

‘It matters desperately to me that Daisy, like many of my favourite people and some of my most loyal readers, is queer, and I wanted to make sure that I got the announcement of that fact right,’ she said.

‘Queer readers of all ages are suddenly able to see themselves in Daisy in a way they never expected, and I’ve been overwhelmed to realize, once again, how much representation matters.’

Let’s get creative

Stevens and her husband, David Stevens, decided to get creative and use the backlash to raise critical funds for Mermaids.

They’re now selling ‘thoughtful wokery’ t-shirts. Their plan is to turn ‘the hateful slogan into something positive’ and will give all of the proceeds to Mermaids.

‘We hope that we can give the charity money as well as our support, and we hope that we’ve turned this unpleasant story into some good news,’ Stevens said.

Author: Shannon Power

The post Teacher bans author’s books because she retweeted a trans support group appeared first on Gay Star News.