GEORGE TOWN: A planned protest against the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac) over the previously scheduled screening of a controversial ‘gay movie’, almost fizzled out last night when only 20 people showed up.
NGOs Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang and Gabungan Perwakilan Melayu Pulau Pinang had hoped for a larger turnout but their efforts did not seem in vain when a few home ministry officials arrived later to talk to penangpac staff, at the Straits Quay Mall here yesterday evening.
The venue had previously announced that “Hot Boy Noi Loan va Cau Chuyen ve Thang Cuoi” (Lost in Paradise), a Vietnamese movie story about two male homosexuals, would be screened last night as part of the theatre’s “World’s Best Movies” campaign.
However, penangpac cancelled the screening and had scheduled another movie after its promotion on Facebook started to gain some controversy and negative feedback.
With the presence of the protesters, penangpac decided to cancel the free screening of the replacement movie, 1960s musical West Side Story, as well.
penangpac, though open for regular ticket sales for other events, also decided to partially roll down its shutters in anticipation of the protest.
Representatives from the two NGOs said any screening of movies with a gay theme would be disrespectful to Islam and the moral values of the country.
They also questioned the long-established theatre company for even daring to screen the movie and go as far as publicising it on social media.
Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang chairman Mohd Hafiz Nordin said penangpac had clearly crossed the line by attempting to screen the gay film.
“We want to ask on the need for a 2011 film being shown today. Why not new movies? What is penangpac’s motive, really?
“If you are a Malaysian, you will not dare to bring such a film to the country.
“I am sure the government would not allow films with sex ‘luar tabii’ (against nature). Sex ‘ikut tabii’ also cannot,” said Hafiz, who was also embroiled in controversy last month after saying that non-Muslims should not join in buka puasa events, unless they converted to Islam.
He added that being gay is wrong in Islam, and that penangpac, by trying to screen a gay movie, was acting against Islam and hence, against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as he is the head of Islam in the country.
Meanwhile, Penang home ministry assistant enforcement officer Muhd Khairuddin Yusof said penangpac had been told not to show movies without approval from the ministry or action would be taken against it.
“They admitted that the movie had gay elements and it did not get the ministry’s approval. They told us it got an award in 2010 and it was selected by a committee here.
“We told them not to show the movie at all, or else action will be taken. There is no approval from the ministry.
“They claimed they did not know the procedures,” he said.