Govt should stand up for LGBT, says Suhakam

PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Youth and Sports should not cave in to public pressure over its interim press secretary because of his sexual orientation, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today.

It should have stood by Numan Afifi Saadan, who is an LGBT advocate because Malaysia is supposed to ensure equality of its citizens under Article 8 of our Federal Constitution, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail (pix) said in a statement today.

"The resignation following some public backlash over his sexual orientation and, or LGBT non-discrimination activism, is extremely troubling and makes Suhakam very uncomfortable," he said.

"Suhakam would have hoped that the officer would have been assessed and evaluated on his skills, qualifications, and ability to contribute to the Ministry and our country instead of being deemed to be unfit for the position based solely on his sexual orientation, which is a characteristic completely irrelevant to job performance."

Razali also expressed concern that this may be a case of workplace and employment discrimination.

It seems to be continuing in the public and private sectors, which will result in job insecurity for LGBT people, making it difficult for them to provide for themselves and their dependents, he added.

"Suhakam wishes to highlight that it has received many complaints from the LGBT community of violations of human rights including harassment and ill-treatment, bullying, sexual assault and violence, intimidation, denial of employment and education opportunities as well as medical treatment purely because of their sexual orientation and gender identity," Razali said.

"Suhakam wonders whether the hangover of the past is still lingering among new leaders, even with the younger ones, and hopes that the new government will find a way to develop a national conscience to protect society's most vulnerable despite the unavoidable opposition from certain quarters.

"The government must stand up for everyone while firmly upholding principles of equality and non-discrimination in accordance with our Federal Constitution."

All human beings which include LGBT persons should be provided access to among others, education, employment, housing and healthcare services without discrimination, he added.