Focus on rally demands, not LGBT, MP says

Klang MP Charles Santiago.

PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago has criticised those in Pakatan Harapan (PH) who singled out the participation of the LGBT community in the recent International Women’s Day march, calling their comments “a way of carelessly dismissing the march as trivial”.

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

In a statement, he said the march was not used to promote the LGBT but to stop the growing violence against the community in accordance with the constitution.

Citing Article 8(2) which bars discrimination on grounds of gender, he also took the media to task for depicting the rally as an LGBT gathering.

“The PH 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,” he said.

Following the march on Saturday, the government had said it was firm in opposing LGBT groups.

“I am shocked by the actions of a handful of people today who abuse the democratic space to defend practices that are against Islamic teachings,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa had said.

However, Santiago said he pledged solidarity with the Women’s Aid Organisation and others who had organised the march.

“Many of them voted for PH, believing we would 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?”

He also slammed a reported campaign to lodge police reports against the organisers, calling it “ridiculously childish”.

“The time can be better spent creating an equal and enabling environment for all women,” he said.