LGBT activists’ portraits removed after complaints, says state secretary

Penang state secretary Farizan Darus says he would have ordered for the portraits to be removed had he attended the opening of the exhibition. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang state secretary Farizan Darus said he had ordered the removal of two portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists at a state-sponsored photography exhibition here on Monday following complaints from the Prime Minister’s Department and the public.

Farizan said he would have ordered for the photos to be taken down earlier if he had been present at the opening.

“It is not a big issue to us. But promoting LGBT is against our values. If you want to debate the matter at the state assembly, it is fine,” he said outside the state assembly today.

Portraits of LGBT activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik holding up the Jalur Gemilang were taken down at a photography exhibition titled “Stripes and Strokes”.

The exhibition, showcasing the works of photographer Mooreyameen Mohamad, is part of the George Town Festival.

Earlier today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa said he ordered the photos to be taken down as it was against government policy.

He said the pictures can be construed as a “promotion of LGBT culture”.

Klang MP Charles Santiago, however, said the portraits should be reinstated.

He said the removal of these portraits showed the government had failed to protect the rights of all citizens, including those in the LGBT community.

“These are human rights activists whom I feel privileged to call friends,” he said, adding that it was “outrageous that George Town Festival organiser Joe Sidek and photographer Mooreyameen Mohamad were forced to take down the portraits of Pang and Nisha.