In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution to appoint an “independent expert” to find the causes of violence and discrimination against people due to their gender identity and sexual orientation, and discuss with governments about how to protect those people.
The milestone resolution is the United Nation’s most overt expression of gay rights as human rights.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says all human being are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
My press statement pledging solidarity with Numan Afifi, calling on the government to decriminalise homosexuality and repeal all laws that discriminate against the LGBT community is in line with UNHRC’s resolution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It has nothing to do with religion. For those of you who think I am anti-Islam, let me share with you that I fought tooth and nail for citizenship rights for the Rohingya Muslims, vehemently condemned the targeted persecution against them by the Burmese government and led a delegation of ASEAN parliamentarians to the refugee camps in Bangladesh on a fact-finding mission.
Unfortunately many people have twisted my statement into a religious matter, calling me derogatory names.
The demeaning name calling and subtle threats are the same that the LGBT community endures in the country and in their homes.
The government has a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, irrespective of their sexuality and gender identity.
But laws that work against the rights of the minority community create obstacles for the government to do so.
In asking for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, I am advocating for the safeguarding of the civil liberties of this minority group.
But blowing it out of proportion, accusing me of disrespecting Islam and questioning my sexuality only go to show the ignorance of those commenting on my Facebook.
We really need to be inclusive. We need to learn to embrace diversity. We need to respect people who may be different from us. We need to understand that everyone has a right to live in an environment that is free from fear and hatred.
I hope we can work towards this.
As the celebrated Indian poet and writer, Rabindranath Tagore said, let my country awake to that heaven of freedom.