Inequality in more ways than one

Our fight thus far, from my point of view at least, has centered on race and religion. Ketuanan Melayu was getting the brunt of the criticisms, with people of other ethnicity being called “pendatang asing”, and that if anyone has any problem with Ketuanan Melayu, then they should just go back to where they came from. And then of course there was all the body-snatching going on in the name of religion, about converting, about re-converting, about non-believers, etc.

We have been talking about Bangsa Malaysia. About a Malaysia for all Malaysians of any race and religion. We are still talking about it. We are still fighting for equality. We have yet to win any battle at all, much less the war.

But race and religion are not the only inequalities Malaysians face. I reproduce here some parts of an article I found on Patrick Teoh’s NIAMAH!!, sourced from Bernama. Highlights are my own.

In the West, the morally wrong and corrupt homosexual act has turned into a sort of plague, spreading its tentacles far and wide, engulfing individuals with the tendency of adopting this immoral self-indulgence.

The Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) president Yusri Mohamad said that a homosexual act is a serious immoral and criminal offence.

“There is no difference between a homosexual act and adultery. Hence, severe punishment should be handed down against homosexuals. Prevention and punishment must be executed”, said Yusri.

This act, which is like a malignant cancer, should not be allowed to spread its tentacles, as it threatens to bring destruction and devastation to the society.

Dr Maamor said the Information Ministry can use the electronic media to disseminate information on the warfare against this social scourge.

“We may be giving the wrong impression as if the authorities are tolerating this immoral act”, he said.

Meanwhile Yusri calls on the authorities to monitor artistes and actors that portray the ‘feminine’ image.

“We are not saying that all of the womanly males as gays but many of the gays are from this group.

We do not wish these people to be used as the illustration and model”, he said.

Part of the article was discrimination, especially the part against “womanly males” who happen to be artistes and actors. The large part of the article was downright rude, condescending, and homophobic, for want of better word.

Patrick Teoh posted another posting, covering the same topic, this time written by a gay friend he has. Again, I reproduce excerpts, highlights also my own:

Frightened of the demons in me and feeling desperately alone, I ran to jesus and prayed to be normal. “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.” For 12 years I wanted to be like all the rest of god’s chosen ones, everyone so perfect, arms raised to heaven, secrets buried under their songs. I felt even more alone.

So it was a whole decade of trying to be straight and struggling with my “sins” before I finally asked myself the question without answer: What is so wrong with loving another man?

Pastor said, the bible says so. I said, yes, but why is the bible saying so without giving a goddam good reason?

Here we have spent all our lives curing our loneliness by joining different crowds — at the church, the mosque, the malls, the clubs — when ultimately the only way to deal with being alone is to be alone.

No one else can live my life for me, die my death for me.

Is this not inequality? Is this not trying to shove OUR principles, OUR morals, OUR standards down the throats of others?

I don’t want to argue the same argument, that “because God does not allow it, don’t do it”. I know religion does not encourage same-sex relationships. In fact, most religions probably don’t allow it at all. But, as is obvious from what Patrick’s friend wrote, he knows. He knows that the Bible doesn’t allow it. The Bible says it’s wrong. So does the Qu’ran, no?

Most of the time, [I am] confused. I am trying to define who I am, not just in the eyes of the world, but the eyes of God. I talk to some people, they say to me, if you’re gay, you’re gay, just embrace it. I can’t, I think a lot about religion. It’s clear that no conventional religion in the world accepts homosexuality, not just those of the Abrahamic tradition. That underlines to me how wrong this is in the eyes of religion.

I know it’s the 21st century, I know religion is uncool, but I am a Muslim. I say the Syahadah, I submit, so I play by the rules. That is my commitment. I don’t own my life, God does. But I also have human needs; I want to be in a relationship, I’m a sappy romantic at heart despite the exterior. I see people walking together holding hands, I want that too. But with who? If it’s another girl, then what am I risking? Where is the line that religion draws? Therein lies the conflict.

The above was taken from an interview, published in “I Am Muslim” by Dina Zaman.

The interviewee obviously knows that homosexuality is not accepted in the eyes of Islam, that is how she has interpreted the Qu’ran. That is her commitment. Does she need more pressure from society to do what is the norm? Does she not apply enough pressure on herself?

Nobody is asking anyone to approve of homosexuality. Gays, lesbians, transexuals, and bisexuals already have enough trouble trying to accept themselves for who they are, to come to terms with their own faiths and beliefs, and determine for themselves what road to take. They don’t seek approval. They seek acceptance. They seek to be treated as equals, as friends, as family, as part of the society that they are contributing to.

Is that so difficult?

I’ve found that some people interpret the Qu’ran as saying that apostates should be killed, or that there is a big difference between Muslims and non-Muslims, and that non-believers will burn in the fires of hell.

I’ve also found that some people interpret the Qu’ran as saying that everything, ultimately, is judged by Allah, and Allah alone can judge. That everything should be left for Him to decide.

I think the same can be said of the Holy Bible or any other religious scripture as well. Different people read things differently.

But in our fight for a true Bangsa Malaysia, we wish to put aside our differences, be it race or religion. In a multi-cultural, diversified Malaysia, people who say that “Christians will not like Muslims”, and “Orang Cina balik China-lah!” are making it all the more difficult for us to really fuse together as one.

If we disagree with these people, if we say that this is inequality, why then do we practice double standards? Why can we say that we can “tolerate” people of other races and religions, but we cannot “tolerate” people who have a different sexual preference?

It is, in my opinion, not even about “toleration”, it is about acceptance. I don’t remember from whose “sinful” blog I read this from, but we are all of one race, the human race. Irrelevant of religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference.


One Comment on “Inequality in more ways than one”

  1. Neoh says:

    It’s sad but poignant why you have not received a single comment on what is a very well written piece of work.

    Is the subject matter too sensitive even for the liberal minded writers of the Malaysian cyber world?

    A Malaysian UK resident.


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