Focus on the rally demands; stop the demonising of the LGBT

What we really need in Malaysia is a radical transformation of the society based on equality and justice.

And that’s exactly what the marchers on International Women’s Day had called for: an end to child marriages and gender discrimination, freedom for women over their bodies and lives, the smashing of patriarchy and a push for equal wages.

But instead of focusing on delivering these legitimate demands, some Pakatan Harapan leaders have opted to single out the participation of the LGBT community as a way of carelessly dismissing the march as trivial.

Caricaturing the march as “a misuse of democratic space” or “disgusting” only go to show an attempt at sidelining women’s issues, which in itself is inconsistent with Pakatan Harapan’s overall commitment to equality.

This is also misogynistic and regressive.

The march wasn’t used to promote the LGBT but rather to stop the growing violence against the minority community in accordance with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which says there should be no discrimination on the grounds of gender.

It’s also irresponsible of the media to cause unnecessary panic by fashioning the rally as a LGBT gathering.

These media organisations are culpable for the incitement of hate and possibly violence across the Malaysian society against a group of defenceless people.

The International Women’s Day is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. While some battles have been won by women, they continue to fight wars against inequality, violence and toxic patriarchy.

Women continue having to work twice as hard and still not get equal pay, there are lower proportions of women to men in government positions and women’s education is still being withheld across the world.

The Pakatan Harapan government has a duty to protect and promote the interest of women from the LGBT community, the aboriginal communities, poor communities, disenfranchised communities, women with disabilities and many more.

We cannot, in this day and age, choose to exclude women from certain communities and yet attempt to build a progressive and inclusive nation for all.

I understand that there is a campaign to lodge police reports against the organisers. This is ridiculously childish and the time can be better spent creating an equal and enabling environment for all women.

I pledge solidarity with Women’s Aid Organisation and the other women’s rights group, which organised the march.

Many of them had voted for Pakatan Harapan, believing we will bring about the balance that’s very much needed to push forward with the empowerment of women in the country.

Are we going to disappoint them?

MP FOR KLANG & Member of the select Committee on Human Rights and Gender Equality
Media statement by Charles Santiago in Parliament on Monday, 11th March 2019