Penang govt surprised after posters of LGBT activists taken down

Pictures of Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik at the exhibition in Penang, before they were removed.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has expressed surprise over the removal of posters featuring prominent LGBT activists at the annual George Town Festival, saying the pictures did not violate any rules on decency.

Chong Eng, the exco in charge of gender inclusiveness, said it smacked of discrimination based on sexual orientation, adding that it was only a showcase of Malaysian patriotism.

“It is just a portrait of a Malaysian person and it is a basic human right to be patriotic. We should not discriminate against people based on their sexuality or gender,” she said.

“We must start looking beyond their sexuality and gender and focus on what other qualities they have.”

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.

Other prominent Malaysians featured in it include Patrick Teoh, Lim Kit Siang and Siti Zabedah Kasim.

Sources told FMT the instruction to take down the portraits had come from a very senior official of the Penang government who was acting on instructions from a federal minister.

It is also learnt that the minister had questioned the use of the posters, and asked if Penang had “given recognition to the LGBT community”.

Chong said while the George Town Festival was supported by the Penang government, the state government had no say in how the exhibits were handled.

“We must be aware there are people in the country who cannot accept certain things.

“So, there are limits we can push and some we can’t, there are a lot of emotional people. You can’t convert all and expect all to be open-minded, there is a long way to go,” she said without elaborating.