Religious Police Raid LGBT Halloween Party – DW – 30/10/2022

Malaysia’s Islamic religious police raided an LGBT Halloween party on Saturday night, arresting people engaged in cross-dressing and allegedly encouraging vice.

Activist Numan Afifi was among those arrested at the Kuala Lumpur event. He told the AFP news agency that the raid was “traumatizing and harrowing”.

“About 40 religious officers, backed by the police, entered the hall with about 1,000 participants, and they stopped the music and dancing,” he said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Noor Dellhan Yahaya has since vowed to “step up operations and inspections of clubs,” The Star newspaper quoted him as saying.

Muslims detained

Numan said authorities divided partygoers into two groups: Muslims and followers of other religions. Authorities checked 53 men and nine women at the Halloween party, The Star reported.

Authorities then took 20 of the group’s Muslims to the Islamic Religious Department of the Federal Territories. They were all released after a few hours, but are due to return next week for further questioning.

“Some would have committed offenses under cross-dressing, while others, including me, encouraged vice,” Numan said.

Malaysia has a two-track justice system with civil courts and Islamic Sharia courts designed specifically for Muslim Malaysians, who make up 60% of the country’s population. These religious laws do not apply to the sizable Chinese and Indian communities, nor to most foreigners.

Calls for change

This latest incident in which police raided an LGBT+ party sparked outrage in the Southeast Asian country, which counts Thailand and Singapore among its neighbors.

Opposition politician Carles Santiago said the raid was a case of “harassment of a marginalized community”.

“When will we learn to respect and accept people for who they are?” he tweeted.

Others have called on Malaysia to drop its laws targeting queer people.

“These people are not criminals,” human rights lawyer Siti Kassim told AFP. “The oppression and discrimination against LGBT people must stop immediately.”

AFP material contributed to this report.

Edited by: Darko Janjevic

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