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Raymond Tai, Chief Operations Officer at The Pink Triangle Foundation (an LGBT charity in Kuala Lumpur), says the Malaysian government uses the subjects of race and religion “to exert anti-gay influence” over the Malay-majority population.“Decades of social engineering within the education system, national media and government departments, coupled with policies favouring the Malays as the indigenous race, has resulted in a conservative, conformist mainstream population,” he said.I think everybody has their own different way of reading the scriptures and you don’t have to follow what society expects you to do.” Yet if there’s one thing that Amir and Hafiz can unilaterally agree on, it’s that they will never come out to their parents.According to Amir, Malaysian households are typically conservative, and parents would “not tolerate this kind of lifestyle.” It’s not uncommon for many gay men in Malaysia to get married to women, just to please their families.Tai says most Malay people “would be reserved in expressing their support for the rights of LGBT, for fear of being seen as a lesser Muslim, and out of peer pressure.” Hafiz, a Muslim-Malay, notes that this severely impacts his relationship with his religion.“Me liking guys, it’s a really hard thing because I really love being a Muslim,” he said.“At the same time, it feels really a burden because Islam says you cannot be a gay guy.” “At the end of the day it’s between you and God.
It was at university, where he gained the support of his classmates, that he learned to accept himself; the damage dealt by one side of Malaysia healed by another.
Dressed in a traditional batik shirt, he drove us straight from his office near KLCC to the venue in Petaling Jaya.
Keeping his eyes firmly ahead on the rush-hour traffic, he broke the silence and said: “Don’t worry, all my friends from law school are there. We’ll be fine lah.” Malaysia’s relationship with its LGBT citizens is sweet and sour.
“You can be muslim and gay at the same time,” said Amir.
“It depends on how you see it.” “I still believe in God, I still believe in my religion.