Image via Free Malaysia Today
Malaysia’s government is cracking down on immigration and travel into the country, and they’re specifically targeting partygoers.
Malaysia’s Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali stated on Thursday that there was a ban on the country for individuals looking to visit for a beer festival and a gay party.
On top of that, the Immigration Department is working with the Malasian Islamic Development Department to get information about people flying into the country. They are seeking to identify those coming in with hopes of joining the two parties and red-flagging them as No To Land (NTL).
“Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had instructed me not to allow them to enter the country,” said Mustafar Ali, “and I had also conveyed the information to the 137 entry points managed by us.”
“The beer festival or gay party is against our country’s culture and we will be strict in denying their entry,” he told a press conference.
The two parties in question are the Better Beer Festival 2017 and a party hosted by gay themed organization White Party Bangkok.
In regards to the beer festival, the official explanation, despite what Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali stated, for canceling that event was that it’s a preemptive strike against a potential terrorist attack. Sources say the government found word of a planned attack by religious extremists and so they chose to cancel the entire festival.
That said, Mustafar Ali stated that the beer festival was against the country's culture, so there might be more at play here.
And while the reasoning behind the beer festival is getting construed, there was no such excuse for the gay party planned for the city of Kuala Lumpur. It seems the banning of this event was strictly an act of discrimination.
"The Immigration Department is firm in its stance not to compromise with any parties attempting to introduce unhealthy and immoral practices that can threaten the peace, security and sovereignty of the country," Mustafar Ali said in his statement to the press.
The actual event was just a promotional one to be held in Kuala Lumpur by White Party Bangkok. The purpose was to promote the WPB brand and promote WPB’s big event on December 28th in Thailand which is the biggest annual gay music festival in Asia.
But as much as the Malaysian government is trying to ban gay people from congregating, they aren’t working along with their own laws.
You see, in Malaysia being gay is not a crime, but rather their law prohibits anal and oral sex. As such, simply having a bunch of gay men gather in one place isn’t against the law.
“A ban on someone purely based on one’s sexual orientation may be argued to be unconstitutional. As everyone is equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection under the law,” criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad told The Malay Mail Online.
“There’s no specific law preventing people, regardless of their sexual orientation, from meeting up or having a social function.”
“Having said that, if in the social function, there are people who commit acts which are against the existing laws, then the appropriate action can be taken,” he added.
This has led several people and groups to criticize the government for their abuse of power and some of the travel bans are being fought in court.