Women’s March organizers defend LGBTI presence after public outcry

women dressed in pink holding placards at women's day march

The organizers of Women’s Day March in Malaysia have hit back at criticism it showed support for the LGBTI community

Politician Mujahid Yusof Rawa slammed Saturday’s march for including LGBTI marchers and people supporting the LGBTI community. Thousands agreed with him in a debate that has gone viral on social media.

‘I was very shocked by the actions of some quarters today who abused democratic space to defend something that is wrong by Islam,’ he wrote on Facebook.

Malaysia majority Muslim country, which has experienced a rise in anti-LGBTI rhetoric and violence against the community.

But people at the Women’s Day March voiced their support with placards and rainbow flags. Many chanted ‘leave LGBTI alone’ and ‘long live LGBT’.

Destroy patriarchy

Now, organizers of the march have spoken out against the criticism.

‘Contrary to the moral panic instigated by the media, and amplified by the political opportunism by individuals in positions of authority, the International Women’s Day march calls for: end all violence based on gender and sexual orientation, ban all child marriages, ensure our rights and freedom to make choices over our own bodies and lives, ensure dignified minimum wage of RM1,800 (US$440), destroy patriarchy and build genuine democracy at all levels of society,’ they said in a statement.

Organizers said the march featured a ‘rich diversity of voices’. But their messages had been ‘sidelined by media and attackers of the march’.

‘Instead, disproportionate attention was made to single out and target the presence of LGBT participants,’ the statement said.

‘This borders on incitement to hatred and violence towards a section of Malaysian society who are already at risk and facing multiple forms of discrimination.

‘We strongly reject such a move, and the continued escalation of this hostile and aggressive treatment.’

They argued a ‘healthy democracy rests on the full and equal participation by all levels of society’.

‘The specific and deliberate non-recognition of LBTIQ women acts as an attempt to exclude and erase an entire segment of the population of women,’ the statement read.

‘Without such an intersectional and inclusive approach, all of our measures towards building a more peaceful, harmonious and developed nation will be hampered.’

Author: Shannon Power

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