Gay Asia

Gay Dating Gets A Major Makeover

Gay Dating Gets A Major Makeover

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Asiaout’s Gay Dating website which has been in pre-launch test mode over the last few weeks is now undergoing a major upgrade in response to members’ requests.

The revamp has already begun and is expected to take at least a week to fully configure the changes and improvements prior to the site’s official launch which is slated for 3 August.

Some of the features you can expect to see include:

  • Easy to use on mobiles/cell phones & tablets
  • Fun & Friendly
  • Helpful Fast Support
  • Detailed Personal Profiles
  • Basic & Advanced Searches
  • Generous Space for Photos & Videos
  • Personal Blogs
  • Secure Private Message System
  • Friends
  • View Visitors To Your Profile
  • Privacy Options
  • Likes & Comments
  • Virtual Gifts
  • Blocking & Reporting
  • Please watch for the anuncement of the official launch of Asiaout’s Gay Dating. We look forward to seeing you guys there!

  • HIV Exploding Epidemic Among Gays

    HIV Exploding Epidemic Among Gays

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    HIV infections are rising among gay men in many parts of the world, the World Health Organization has warned, urging all men who have sex with men to take antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection.

    “We are seeing exploding epidemics,” warned Gottfried Hirnschall, Head of WHO’s HIV department.

    Infection rates are rising again among men who have sex with men – the group at the epicentre of AIDS pandemic when it first emerged 33 years ago, he said.

    While images of skeletal men dying of AIDS in the 1980s pushed the world to act, a younger generation that has grown up among new treatments that make it possible to live with HIV are less focused on the disease, he suggested.

    Today, this group is 19 times more likely than the general population to be infected by HIV, Hirnschall said.

    In Bangkok for instance, the incidence of HIV among men who have sex with men stands at 5.7 per cent, compared to less than 1.0 per cent for the overall population, he said.

    In its new recommendations for combatting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, published today, the UN health agency therefore for the first time “strongly recommends men who have sex with men consider taking antiretroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection”.

    Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, for instance as a single daily pill combining two antiretrovirals, in addition to using condoms, has been estimated to cut HIV incidence among such men by 20-25 per cent, WHO said, stressing that this could avert “up to one million new infections among this group over 10 years”.

    The new guidelines also focus on other high-risk groups, pointing out that men who have sex with men, transgender people, prisoners, people who inject drugs and sex workers together account for about half of all new HIV infections worldwide.

    At the same time, they are often the very groups who have least access to healthcare services, with criminalisation and stigma often dissuading them from seeking help even when it is available.

    When people fear seeking health care services it “will inevitably lead to more infections in those communities,” Rachel Baggaley, of the WHO’s HIV department, told reporters.

    Globally, transgender women and injecting drug users, for instance, are around 50 times more likely than the general population to contract HIV, while sex workers have a 14-fold higher chance of getting infected, WHO said.

    Happy New Year – Wet N Wild

    Happy New Year – Wet N Wild

    Whether its Songkran (Thailand); PiMai (Laos); Thingyan (Myanmar); or Chaul Chnam Thmey, Its the traditional New Year across South East Asia, and its celebrated with several days of watery mayhem.

    Songkran (Thai New Year) “Love it or Leave it”! 

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    Every year, April brings a time of joy to millions of Thais, and a time of dread for thousands of expats.  Songkran is an adventure you should experience at least one time.  A lot of expats find this time of year a good time to escape to other parts of Southeast  Asia, but at the same time, thousands of Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Malaysians and travelers from Hong Kong come to Thailand to celebrate and party.

    Songkran is the Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days. April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok when the New Year begins. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city, with the exception of a few tourist places, which are so crowded with partiers; the traffic comes to a complete standstill.

    The Songkran tradition is recognized as a valuable custom for the Thai community, society and religions. The value for family is to provide the opportunity for family members to gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water onto the hands of their parents and grandparents and to present them gifts including making merits to dedicate the result to their ancestors. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.

    The most-talked about celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang Mai where people from all parts of the country flock there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss Songkran Contest and the beautiful parades.

    Those left in Bangkok go crazy at Songkran. Two areas that everyone, both Thai and farang, flock to are Kao San Road, and Silom Road.  Everyone will be armed with the latest pump action water pistols and walk the streets just soaking everyone else. Pickup trucks will be jammed full of people surrounding a large water barrel and as the truck drives past bowls of water are tossed from the container onto everyone. This is a time when thousands of high school and university students party until early in the morning.

    Many venues close for the festival, but some of the venues actually set up parties for the revelers.  On the very gay Silom Soi 4, hundreds gather for water throwing outside of Telephone Pub, with water, ice and talcum powder everywhere, it turns into a war zone.  The whole of Silom from Rama IV Road to Naratiwat Road is closed to traffic in the late afternoon, as thousands gather to play, party, and drink and listen to live bands.

    In the northeastern city of Nong Khai, the Thai-Lao Buddha image Luang Pho Phra Sai is paraded around the city.  You can join in the blessing and being blessed by the governor and the elderly people. Other Songkran events in the city include the sand chedi building contest, Miss Songkran procession, gay beauty contest, Mekong fish cooking contest, Nong Khai souvenir contest, local sports competition, swimming across the Mekong River, folk shows, and of course, the fun of being drenched with water on a hot sunny day.

    In Phuket you can see the procession of Phra Buddha Sihing, the Songkran parade and the Young Kids Songkran Contest, and then enjoy the water fun along Patong Beach.

    In Pattaya local people come together to make merit in several ways at this annual festival which lasts until 19 April in this beach resort. They build chedi out of sand, give water to monks and pay respect to elderly people. The streets of course are jammed with revelers engaged in huge water fights, involving not just water guns, but hosepipes and water trucks. Events in Pattaya includes a Songkran procession, cultural shows, and the Miss Songkran Beauty Contest.

    Some wise words of wisdom. Where ever you decide to celebrate Songkran by all means join the fun, but dress accordingly, as you will be soaking wet for 3 days. Try to leave all your valuables at home, this time of year there are a great many thieves out, looking to rip you off. Also be sure to wrap up anything you do take, wallet, money, id and mobile phones in a heavy plastic bag, as you will be totally drenched. There are purpose made plastic bags available cheaply in most shops at this time of the year.

    PiMai (Lao New Year)

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    Celebrated at the same time as in Thailand it is more a time of being with the family, but not as Wet and Wild as in Thailand (except perhaps in Vientiane and Luang Prabang).

    Lao New Year takes place in April, the hottest time of the year in Laos, which is also the start of the monsoon season. The official festival lasts for three days from April 13 to April 15 (although celebrations can last more than a week in towns like Luang Prabang).

    The first day is the last day of the old year. Houses and villages are properly cleaned on the first day. Perfume, water and flowers are also prepared for the Lao New Year. The second day of the festival is the “day of no day”, a day that falls in neither the old year nor the new year. The last day of the festival marks the start of the new year.  Water is used for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. Students first respectfully pour water on their elders, then monks for blessings of long life and peace, and last of all they throw water at each other. The water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes. Some people prefer flowers in the water to give a pleasant smell, as well as adding cologne/perfume.

    Over the years another tradition has developed with Lao New Year: people will smear or throw cream (shaving cream or whipped cream) or white powder on each other during the celebrations.

    Chaul Chnam Thmey (Khmer New Year)

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    Lasting three full days in mid-April (13 – 15 April), Khmer New Year is, arguably, the most popular festival and national holiday in Cambodia. Chol Chnam Thmey as it is called in Khmer, coincides with the end of the harvesting season so farmers celebrate the New Year with their families and enjoy some relaxation before the rainy season starts again.

    Phnom Penh is almost a ghost town as all the countryside people working there go home.  A majority of the businesses close for the week.  People travel from near and far to meet with their families, visiting the temples and celebrations are widespread all over the country. Streets are often packed with people enjoying some time with their friends and families and you will also see traditional games and dances.

    The throwing of water is also a notable feature at this special time of year and, although it has been limited in the main tourist areas, it’s still widespread in the countryside and rural areas.  In terms of accommodation and travelling around the country, Khmer New Year is, one of the busiest periods of the year in Cambodia, with both buses and local hotels and guesthouses filling up early, so it is usually a good idea to book both tickets and accommodation in advance.

    Maha Songkran, derived from Sanskrit Maha Sankranti, is the name of the first day of the new year celebration. It is the ending of the year and the beginning of a new one. People dress up and light candles and burn incense sticks at shrines, where the members of each family pay homage to offer thanks for the Buddha’s teachings by bowing, kneeling and prostrating themselves three times before his image. For good luck people wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon, and their feet in the evening before they go to bed.

    Virak Wanabat is the name of the second day of the new year celebration. People contribute charity to the less fortunate by helping the poor, servants, homeless, and low-income families. Families attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at the monastery.

    Tngay Leang Saka is the name of the third day of the new year celebration. Buddhists cleanse the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. Bathing the Buddha images is the symbol that water will be needed for all kinds of plants and lives. It is also thought to be a kind deed that will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life. By bathing their grandparents and parents, children can obtain from them best wishes and good advice for the future.

    Thingyan (Myanmar New Year)

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    Myanmar’s New Year is celebrated with gusto in April as in the neightbouring countries, and everybody joins in the fun of dousing each other with water. Young people go out to enjoy the event, while elderly people may retreat to monasteries and pagodas to perform meritorious deeds. One cannot avoid getting very wet because everyone throws water at everybody else. People drive through the city in open trucks and there are stages along the street where people throw water. During this time, everything is closed including restaurants, shops, markets, museums, etc.

    Asiaout Community Service Awards 2014

    Asiaout Community Service Awards 2014

    ASIAOUT COMMUNITY AWARDS

    On 14 February, an appropriate date for our first birthday, Asiaout celebrates by recognising those who have made a significant and positive difference to the lives of LGBT in Asia.

    We share our love for the LGBT community by announcing our first ever Community Service Awards.

    The awards recognise and give thanks to those organisations that have done so much to support, encourage, and help the Asian LGBT Community through health education, and activism.

    THAILAND

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    Adam’s Love

    In our opinion one of the best MSM (Men Having Sex With Men) health and education websites on the internet. Published by the Thai Red Cross in both English and Thai, it succeeds in being entertaining, educational, and informative in a friendly and cosy manner that really gets it’s message across with comprehensive content that appeals to all.
    Adam’s Love is very active both online and offline and has made a huge impact on MSM health and education, and has actively supported a similar website and health services in Indonesia.

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    Anjaree

    Although primarily a lesbian group, Anchalee have been a prime mover in the fight to improve overall LGBT rights in Thailand, with hard fought sucesses that include overturning a college policy prohibiting gays and trangendered students from enrolling in 36 campuses; in 1998 they overturned a government policy banning homosexuals from appearing on television. They continue to connect lesbians to one another through their website and newspaper. And in January 2002 Anjaree successfully pressured the Thai Ministry of Health to state publicly that homosexuality is not a mental illness.
    They have also been heavily involved in helping to formulate a bill to introduce Civil Unions in Thailand.

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    MPlus

    Mplus+ is a non-profit organization based in Chiang-Mai, Thailand, which works primarily to promote sexual health for men who have sex with men (MSM).  Mplus+ was founded by USAID in 2004, after reports of increased HIV/AIDS prevalence among the MSM population in Northern Thailand.  Although male sex workers (self-identified as gay or heterosexual) are their most important target group, Mplus+ also serves the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender communities.

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    SWING

    The Service Workers In Group (SWING) Foundation, a community-based Non Government organisation in Thailand, was formed in 2004 to address the issues associated with the rise of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV/AIDS amongst male and transgender sex workers as well as other men who have sex with men (MSM). With funding from US AID and support from Family Health International, SWING began implementing comprehensive STI and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support services for this community.

    SWING has since expanded to provide education, health education and support, as well as activities and projects aimed at empowering male, female and transgender sex workers, and advocates for the improved quality of life for those working in the sex industry.

    SWING has offices in three major tourist destinations across Thailand; Bangkok, Pattaya and Samui.

    MALAYSIA

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    COMANGO (Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the United Nations Periodic Review Process) is a coalition of 54 NGOs. It is the largest coalition to submit a UPR report on Malaysia, which in 2013 included women’s and LGBT rights, resulting in the Malaysian government banning the grouping for ‘fighting for sexual orientation and gender identity rights which infringe Islamic beliefs’. The Malaysian government routinely persecute the country’s LGBT minority.

    PHILIPPINES

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    Outrage Magazine

    Not just a print publication, Outrage carries LGBT issues beyond reporting and into active measures to tackle inequality and MSM health issues, including a training program (on human rights and on HIV) for the Deaf LGBT members of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow.  They also highlight issues involving senior MSM who are usually neglected by most support groups.
    In March 2013, they launched the “More Than A Number” campaign to give a human face to those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in the Philippines.

    SINGAPORE

    aocsacertificatesgrainbowSGRainbow

    SGRainbow is a non-profit independent activities-based social group for young gay and bisexual males aged 18 to 25. Its mission is to provide a platform – through social settings and activities – for gay and bisexual youths to grow as individuals and to help raise awareness of the existence of gay youths and the relevant issues affecting gay youths. SGRainbow also actively highlights HIV/AIDS awareness with young MSM (men who have sex with men).

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    Pink Dot

    With a softly-softly approach exactly right for their country, Pink Dot has been instrumental in bringing home the message of equality and safe sex to the conservative nation of Singapore. Their annual Pink Dot gatherings have garnered massive local support, as well as attracting huge international attention.

    TAIWAN

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    Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association

    As part of its work, TTHA has been supporting the promotion of gender equality education in Taiwan, notably through the inclusion of gay rights and sexual orientation topics in new curriculum for elementary and junior high school.

    By teaching youths about diversity in sexual orientation, TTHA and other like-minded organizations hope to enhance understanding and respect. TTHA also ties this to efforts to stem bullying in schools, which is often based on prejudices and stereotypes towards gender or sexual orientation. The organisation also actively promotes sexual health issues.

    TTHA is a joint effort of 4 LGBT and gender issue-concerning groups established in 1980.

    About Asiaout

    Although Asiaout is ‘One Year Old’ on 14 February, in fact we have a 19 year online history of informing, serving and entertaining the gay Asia community through our two predecesor websites Dragoncastle and Cambodiaout which were combined on 14 February 2013 to create Asiaout.

    Asiaout is a family of six LGBT community websites, with the most comprehensive listings of Asian LGBT venues, LGBT events, LGBT news, gay social networking, gay galleries, LGBT support resources, the free Rainbow Lifestyle Card, and many other free services to Asia’s LGBT.

    Don’t Say Hi To Me

    Don’t Say Hi To Me

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    Gay Asian Drug Use – Its seems that a large proportion of sexually active young gay Asians aren’t getting their kicks purely from sex acts; many want to use drugs to give sex that added “Hi”, without understanding the mid to long term consequences of drug use.

    Scanning through some online dating sites, you can see endless profiles either direcly or obliquely saying they are looking for drug induced sex, with young Thais being some of the worst offenders. Terms like “I want to fly”, “Hi Hi Hi”, “I want to cool” and variations are common, as are user names like Ice Cool, and Hi Ice.

    Hong Kong’s Time Out magazine recently reported a tale of gay sex and drug parties in the territory, with one user claiming that “it doesn’t hurt anyone.”

    The magazine posed the question: “Why are gay men in Hong Kong using methamphetamine recreationally?”

    “There are a few reasons why,” HKU graduate student Sky Lau told Time Out, who has been studying the rise of chem fundrug use in the gay community for the past three years.

    “Back around 2008, the quality of ecstasy decreased because there were lots of impurities. Gay men complained they didn’t get high or horny off the new batches of E and there were adverse reactions like vomiting. And, in conjunction, raves decreased due to police raids. With a lack of parties, why would there be a demand for a party drug?”

    And so, claims Lau, with a lack of raves and ‘good E’, interest shifted to intimate household sex parties – and meth use at these soirees became known as chem fun. “It’s like watching a ball game with friends,” says Walter. “You have your beer and chips to liven up the atmosphere – and, for sex parties, you have meth, which goes for an expensive rate of $800 per gramme.”

    Unlike the west, cocaine and heroin are not the drugs of choice for Asian gays; in South East Asia it tends to be mainly crystal methamphetamine (“ice”), and (especially in Thailand) synthetically produced pills known at Yaba (crazy medicine) containing 25 to 35 mg of methamphetamine and 45 to 65 mg of caffeine. Tablets come in a variety of flavours and colours. Yaba looks and tastes so much like candy that many young users (including ecstasy users) underestimate the serious damage it can do to their health.

    While police do make regular drug busts, it seems that the problem is virtually out of control and many young gay men can’t have, or don’t want to have, sex without drugs – despite the well documented serious effects it can have on health. Many studies have shown that gay men who use crystal meth are between two and three times more likely to have unsafe sex too.

    Gay sex workers are avid users of these drugs, and during police raids its common for a good percentage of sex workers to test positive for drug use. Being arrested doesn’t seem to be much of a deterrent, and the chances of not being caught are very high.

    There is also the issue of sexual health amongst drug users, many of whom won’t use a condom – drug use can reduce the possibility of a real erection and that makes putting on a condom an irritant. In Thailand its estimated that 39% of people who inject drugs are HIV-positive.

    Crystal meth is a very strong stimulant, which brings on an intense feeling of euphoria and lowers the user’s inhibitions. It is also claimed to increase libido and prolong sexual activity. However, most gay men are not aware that crystal use can cause, among other things, sores and abrasions in their mouths, transforming a low-risk behaviour like oral sex into a high-risk one.

    Population Services International’s Champion-IDU programme operates peer-led harm reduction services out of drop-in centres and offices in 19 provinces.

    Promoting the concept of harm reduction to law enforcement agencies is an uphill battle. The project is operating in a hostile legal environment that puts its outreach workers at the same risks as its client group, said PSI’s programme director for harm reduction.

    “Law enforcement agencies will use needles as evidence of drug use. Anyone found with a needle can be forced to undergo a urine test. If it’s positive, they can be forced into a compulsory drug treatment centre. If they have drugs on them, then it’s straight to prison,” he said.

    Currently, there appears to be no concerted effort by the authorities or by support groups to carry out a serious and prolonged campaign to educate young gays to the serious dangers they risk through the use of drugs.

    State Sponsored Hatred In Malaysia

    State Sponsored Hatred In Malaysia

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    For those who might not be aware of it, the Malaysian government has been, for a quite a long time, conducting a serious effort is demonize and repress a minority group through a series of actions that are a fundamental breach of human rights, and which have some parallels with the early activities of the Nazis in Europe in the 1930s.

    Its almost unbelievable in the 21st century that a so-called democratic government can actively persecute a minority of its citizens with impunity. You’ll hear little or no condemnation from world powers like China, the US and the EU or the regional ASEAN organisation, despite the fact that almost on a weekly basis there are strong verbal attacks, and sometimes more, on that minority group by government ministers, and religious leaders, who also actively seek to restrict or deny that group it’s human rights. Such actions could be considered criminal and those responsible should be called to account.

    Who are these oppressed people? Gay, lesbians, and transgenders; the same group that Hitler attempted to exterminate in his death camps along with the unfortunate Jews. Some in Malaysia have also advocated that gays be sent to “re-education” camps, and some ‘effeminate’ youth were actually detained in one for a while .

    The following reports just some aspects of ongoing government repression:

    In 1994, the government banned anyone who is homosexual, bisexual or transsexual from appearing in the state controlled media.

    In 1995, the state of Selangor Religious Affairs Minister praised the Islamic Badar vigilante groups who had organized in 1994 to assist in the arrest of 7,000 for engaging in “unIslamic” activities including homosexuality.

    In May 1998 forty-five transvestites were tried in an Islamic court following a police raid of a drag beauty pageant held in Alor Star, the capital of the Malaysian state of Kedah. Fifty crossdressers had been vying for a title for the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle before some 300 guests in the Kedah Indian Association hall when police burst in and arrested all the contestants.

    Five non-Muslims were released, but the rest were charged with wearing female clothes and posing as women in a public place, charges carrying maximum penalties of six months’ incarceration.

    In 2001, the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated that the country will deport any visiting ministers, or diplomats who are gay. Mohamad also warned gay ministers in foreign countries not to bring along their partners while visiting the nation, while his daughter Marina Mahathir has called for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    In 2000, Abdul Kadir Che Kob described homosexuals as “shameless people” and homosexuality as a “sin worse than murder.” Abdul Kadir is head of education and research at Malaysia’s Islamic Affairs Department, which operates as the morality police with 50 enforcement officers across the country. These officers are empowered to arrest Muslims, including unmarried couples, homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals, suspected of breaking Islamic laws. in 1999, 111 men were arrested in Kuala Lumpur for “attempting to commit homosexual acts”.

    In September 2003, a nationally televised speech marking Malaysia’s national holiday by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was riddled with anti-gay epithets and threats.

    Speaking to a crowd of more than 300,000 following a massive parade in the capital, and broadcast live throughout the country, Mahathir said Malaysia’s achievements proved its policies worked. He then claimed that foreign powers were trying dominate weak countries and warned that Western influences threatened Malaysia’s traditional values.

    “Western films idolize sex, violence, murders and wars,” said Mahathir, a critic of US-led globalization. “Now they permit homosexual practices and accept religious leaders with openly gay lifestyles.”

    “They are very angry, especially their reporters, many of whom are homos, when we take legal action against these practices,” Mahathir said.

    Mahathir warned that “if there are any homosexuals in Malaysia they had better mend their ways,” or face the maximum prison terms.

    In 2005, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor stated that the Navy would never accept homosexuals.

    In 2010, the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia announced it would only allow depiction of homosexual characters as long as the characters “repent” or die.

    The “People’s Anti-Homosexual Voluntary Movement”, was created in 1998 to lobby for stricter criminal laws against homosexuality, and is part of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO)

    In April 2011, the government of the Malaysian state of Terengganu announced a program in which effeminate boys would be sent to a ‘boot camp’ for retraining and re-education.

    On 3rd November 2011, The Huffington Post and other media reported that Malaysian police ordered the closure of a “Sexual Independence” festival that had been a low key annual event for three previous years and was held in private to support the beleaguered LGBT community. The Huffington Post story said:
    “Authorities will ‘prevent any function relating to the program,’ deputy police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement run by national Bernama news agency and confirmed by police representatives.

    Many organizations “feared the program could create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order,” Khalid said.

    Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had described the event as “inappropriate” and a “waste of time,” according to local news agency Bernama.

    Gay rights activists said the festival was meant to counter widespread homophobia in this socially conservative Asian nation, where a young gay man received death threats last year after posting a YouTube clip defending his sexuality.

    “Asking us to keep quiet is asking us to take your abuse with a smile … it’s time to put a stop to all the hate and misunderstanding and abuse,” festival spokesman Pang Khee Teik said in an online statement posted before the event was banned.

    This year’s program also included plans for talks on sexuality issues, a poster exhibition and a makeup workshop by a drag queen. One session is titled “Defense Against The Dark Arts: Homophobia 101.”

    Media censorship rules forbid movies and song lyrics that promote acceptance of gays, while a decades-old law makes sodomy punishable by 20 years in prison, though it is seldom and selectively enforced.

    The festival’s sponsors and supporters included the Malaysian chapter of Amnesty International, the country’s main grouping of lawyers and other human rights organizations.”

    In April 2012 an anti-gay demonstration took place in a Kuala Lumpur university campus which was attended by more than 1000 people.

    On 27 June 2012, Prime Minister Najib Razak made it plain in a statement on his website that the Malaysian LGBT community had no part to play in the nation’s life or development, saying “any deviant aspects such as liberalism, pluralism and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) would not have a place in the country”. The reference to pluralism also reflects UMNO’s desire to remain permanently in control of the country.

    In November 2012, An ASEAN “Human Rights” declaration was heavily criticised for having little substance after Malaysia and some other countries objected to the inclusion of LGBT rights in the document. A long list of civil rights organisations jointly signed a condemnation of the impotent charter.

    On 26 November the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister told the Phnom Pehn Post: “You know why HIV and AIDS occur… how it is being spread. Now the number of people suffering from HIV is alarming. What is it you want? Do you want to allow this… or do you want to contain it. You have to nip [homosexuality] in the bud. If you don’t, when the time comes and you have to stop [homosexuality], you will find it’s too late.”

    In response President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Ou Virak, described Rosmah’s comments as ‘bogus and extremely homophobic’.

    ‘Come on, it’s 2012,’ Virak said. ‘The world knows this is not true. This confirms our fears about the (ASEAN) declaration – that these clauses were included to give governments excuses to not uphold universal principles of human rights.’

    Rosmah described human rights as ‘the rights of an individual based on what you believe in, based on your culture and your religion’. She said it was ‘fine’ for other countries to recognize LGBT rights, they wanted to run Malaysia based on ‘high morality’, implying that LGBT people are of low morals by nature.

    On 7 December 2012 The ruling UMNO party at it’s annual conference stated that “anti-Islamic elements threaten the country”, singling out homosexuality and those who “promote liberalism in mainly Muslim Malaysia.”

    “This LGBT is haram in Islam. (But the opposition) is making LGBT halal … they even said that the law on sodomy is obsolete,” said Pendang delegate Mohd Kamal Saidin, who accused Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim as the man responsible for the promotion of “vice.”

    (In 1998, former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was charged with corruption and sodomy. In 2000, he was sentenced to nine years for allegedly engaging in sodomy with his 19-year-old male chauffeur and his former male speech writer. Despite national and international protests, he was not released until 2004 when he had already served four years of his sentence, when the Federal Court of Malaysia acquitted him of all charges.

    After his release, Anwar stated that he was innocent and the allegations were part of a government conspiracy to end his political career. He also felt that the national criminal laws against homosexuality ought to be reformed to protect consenting adult’s right to have a private life, although he also stated that gay marriage, “is going a bit too far”.

    In 2007, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad responded to a civil lawsuit filed by Anwar by stating that a homosexual should not hold public office in Malaysia and that he knew Anwar was a homosexual because Anwar’s male chauffeur and a male speech writer both stated in court that they had had sexual relations with Anwar.

    In July 2008, Anwar was arrested again, accused of sodomy with a male former aide. The arrest came shortly after Anwar claimed to be in a position to challenge the governing coalition after the opposition’s successes in the March elections. However, he was released on bail and won the campaign for his former seat in Parliament, and currently leads the opposition in Parliament. UMNO lost its long held tight grip over Parliament after dismal election results but remained the governing party.)

    In January this year, an unbeliveably ignorant and stupid statement was made by the deputy education minister, Puad Zarkashi, that ‘lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders (LGBT) are an illness that can be treated.’ – For an education minister, the man is sadly lacking in both education and intelligence.

    He was a speaking at a now notorious ‘seminar’ which was supposed to show parents how to recognise the symptoms (of being LGBT) early to prevent their children from practising the LGBT lifestyle.

    For those already ‘adopting’ the lifestyle, Dr Puad said “intervention by teachers and parents, followed by counselling, can help them to return to the right path”. The use of a phrase like this clearly shows that there is a huge amount of ignorance within the government of Malaysia, as well as bigotry and homophobia. No gay, lesbian or transsexual ‘chooses’ to be that way, anymore than you can chose your height, or hair colour.

    “LGBT is a social illness. We have to raise awareness on it. Just like drugs, a lack of awareness will cause LGBT to spread,” Puad said.

    He called on parents to be attentive to their children and take note of their behaviour. “If your son keeps asking for permission to spend the night at the house of another male friend, then you must check to ensure that nothing else is happening,” he said. The seminar, which was attended by hundreds of teachers and parents, was the 20th in a nationwide series.

    Later, this same series of seminars became a laughing stock both internationally and inside Malaysia, when the ‘Education’ ministry approved a set of ‘symptoms’ for parents to watch for in their children. Amongst the ludicrous symptoms mentioned were:

    Having a muscular body and liking to show their body by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes; Preferring tight and light-coloured clothes; Being attracted to men; and liking to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.

    The warning signs for females were equally stupid: Being attracted to women; Besides their female companions, distancing themselves from other women; Liking to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and having no affection for men.

    For Mohammed Islam, the continued intolerance against the LGBT community is directly opposing the professed message of tolerance being pushed by the government and Prime Minister Najib Razak about Islam.

    “I feel this is counter to everything we are being told and what we are telling the world about Islam,” the 24-year-old graduate student and gay Malaysian, told Bikyanews.com. “If we are going to be a leader in the world and talk about tolerance, we must be accepting to all people and citizens. These seminars are just continuing to show Malaysia as a backward country.”

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time the ruling government has lashed out against the LGBT community. Last year, the government called LGBT as being “of the devil.”

    The Umno, in ending its final assembly ahead of the elections, said that anti-Islamic elements threaten the country, singling out homosexuality and those who promote liberalism in “mainly Muslim Malaysia.”

    One delegate called for a rehabilitation center for the LGBT community to “re-educate” them and bring them back to society.

    At the time of writing (Early April 2013), a musical play is touring Malaysia spewing hatred against the LGBT community – and its fully supported by the bigots in the Malaysian government.

    The government-financed musical that aims to ‘warn young people about the perils of being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)’ has sparked controversy over its “state-sponsored bigotry” and potential to incite hatred.

    Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) follows the lives of three LGBT friends who throw loud parties, take drugs and have casual sex, thereby incurring the wrath of their religious neighbours, who attempt to reintroduce them to the teachings of Islam. Those who repent are spared, while those who don’t are killed in a lightning storm.

    This abhorent ‘play’ completely ignores that fact that most LGBT live very ordinary, routine lives, virtually identical to those of heterosexuals, and is produced purely to incite hatred. Drug taking and casual sex is not entirely unusual amongst heterosexuals in Malaysia, while corruption and sexual misdemeanours are common enough among some high ranking officials who like to preach to others about how they should live.

    These few examples are just the tip of the iceberg of state sponsored hatred against a minority group that doesn’t bother anyone and just wants to peacefully get on with life in the same way that other citizens can.

    Can you imagine living in a country where your own government – elected to serve the whole community – is actively persecuting the community you are a part of?

    Aziz (not his real name) is a gay Malay Muslim. He described to Asiaout how he and some of his friends live in a climate of fear and intimidation, despite being what he describes as “good muslims”.

    “We are afraid of being attacked on the street; afraid of being fired from our jobs; afraid of being arrested on some pretext and then beaten by the police; we’re afraid of what the government might do next.”

    Peter, a gay ethnic Chinese, added; “The whole atmosphere is one of fear. When the government incites hatred against us, there is no recourse at all. We’re in a hopeless situation.”

    Suleiman, another Malay Muslim, noted that living abroad was the best option for many gay Malaysians: “I was lucky enough to have the chance to study and live in England, where despite some racial attitudes, I still feel safer than at home in Malaysia. If I was unlucky enough to suffer an attack or discrimination I know that I can go to the authorities and get help; something that is impossible in Malaysia.”

    As mentioned in our opening remarks, Malaysians have a rare opportunity to vote Najib and his bigoted cohorts out of power, and hopefully in due course these extremist politicians will be held accountable in a court of law.

    Sanctions, Boycott Against Russia Justified

    Sanctions, Boycott Against Russia Justified

    russianattacks
    Vladimir Putin, a man who is beginning to be judged as another Stalin, has a great deal to answer for and his time in a court of law will come.

    There is every justification for all justice loving nations to boycott not only the Winter Olypmics but everything else Russian, while sanctions both financial and diplomatic should be imposed to show this vicious dictator that the rest of the world is abhorred by what Putin and his gangsters are doing is totally unacceptable.

    The world rejected apartheid in South Africa, and isolated that country to such an extent that it was eventually forced to change, and came out of it with one of the world’s greatest statesman, Nelson Mandela, as it leader.

    The world failed to act when Hitler began persecuting and murderering Jews, and we are all aware of that legacy.

    Human Rights apply to all; if you’re black, white, jewish, christian, muslim, sikh, have red hair, or you’re gay, you have the same rights to freedom of expression, and freedom from fear as everyone else.

    There can be no exceptions to the application of Human Rights and Human dignity.

    No doubt the major powers like the US, EU, China etc will choose to ignore what is going on for financial interests, and may that shame be their legacy.

    Some links well worth reading:

    http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/08/07/an-open-letter-to-david-cameron-and-the-ioc/

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/7/4595246/russia-anti-gay-neo-nazis-bully-teens-on-social-media-occupy-pedofilyay

    http://www.southcoastregister.com.au/story/1690936/russias-homophobia-worth-a-boycott/?cs=12

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/russias-anti-gay-laws-dustin-600437

    http://www.theage.com.au/sport/ioc-silence-on-gay-laws-speaks-volumes-20130805-2ra6d.html

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/photos-from-russia-everyone-needs-to-see

    Viet Pride 2013

    Viet Pride 2013

    Hanoi, 10.07.2013 – Viet Pride to bring rainbow to the streets of Hanoi for the second time.

    The Stonewall riot in 1969 sparked the celebration of Pride firstly in the US and gradually became a global phenomenon to symbolize the universality of human rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Pride is an event aiming to raise society’s awareness, to educate the public about diversity of sexuality and to empower the sexual minorities! In many countries, such as Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, Pride is an annual event that attracts millions of participants including politicians, activists, lesbian gay bisexual transgender (LGBT) people, allies and everyone who supports equal rights and humanity.

    The year 2012 in Vietnam marked the first historic gay pride festival in the country with long time taboo of homosexuality. For the first time ever, Vietnam saw the rainbow flag waving at its capital’s streets, bringing tears to the eyes of many Vietnamese LGBTs.
    Nevertheless, equality and dignity for gay people are yet to become a reality. Misunderstanding and social stigmas are still widespread. Insinuation, ridicule, parents’ disapproval, and humiliation are common experiences of gay people. In schools, families, offices, factories, gay people’s dignity and security are still compromised. There are still people, especially the young ones, living in fear of being disowned, being hated, being treated differently.

    Aiming to practically resolve these issues, Viet Pride 2013 is proud to provide scholarships, in the name of Strive with Pride scholarship program, to members of LGBT community in Vietnam at Viet Pride Opening Night 02/08/2013. The Strive with Pride scholarship program aims to assist disadvantaged LGBT youth to acquire vocational training, undergraduate education, or English enrichment. The scholarship hopes to serve as a source of pride and empowerment for those who are strained by circumstance. Up to date, Viet Pride 2013 has received donation making up 50,000,000 VND and will continue to raise this amount of fund to run the scholarship program in an annual basis.

    Another major component of Viet Pride 2013 is the Say Yes to Employment Equality Campaign that aims to explore the landscape of LGBT equality in business sector, including multinational and local corporations based in Vietnam. In the long run, Say Yes to Employment Equality Campaign serves to raise awareness about sexuality in office, create a safe and tolerant workplace environment for LGBT workers, and inform consumer’s buying decision. The campaign has received support from employers such as British Council, Oriflame, Goethe Institute et cetera. An overview of the campaign in 2013 will be reported at Viet Pride Opening Night.
    In the theme of Strive with Pride, Viet Pride 2013 event will also present to the public a series of LGBT films and talk-shows with guest speakers sharing about their experience going from survivors of adversity to role models of inspiration. Maika Elan (World Press Photo award winner), Nguyen Ngoc Thach (author of several hot selling LGBT books), and Huynh Nguyen Dang Khoa (My Best Gay Friend sitcom) will also join the guest speaker board. And last, but definitely not least, the historic bicycle rally will be repeated at the conclusion of the 3-day event, followed by happy hours in the evening at Hanoi Social Club Café!

    Like Pride in other continents of the world, Viet Pride joins the global call to end prejudice, discrimination, shame and invisibility on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It forges the truth that every human is born free and equal, and to love someone is never a criminal act, a religious sin, a medical illness, or a social evil.

    Viet Pride 2013 – Strive with Pride is scheduled to take place from 2nd to 4th of August in Hanoi. Indoor activities are hosted by Goethe Institute as main co-organizing partner of Viet Pride 2013. More information at:
    Website: www.vietpride.info | Facebook: Viet Pride 2013
    Email: [email protected]

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