"I did nothing wrong," Eric Goh wrote to PT Foundation, a community-based organisation providing HIV/AIDS education and sexuality awareness and empowerment programmes, in Malaysia. Goh is one of the 37 - 35 Malaysians and two non-nationals - who was detained by the Malaysian police for two days.
A photo of the arrest that was published in The Star.
But not so according to Goh and some others.
"We were fully dressed when the police came in," Goh said in an email to the PLUPenang newslist that he and his UK friend were there for a quick workout before meeting his family for dinner but instead ended in the lockup "for two unforgettable humiliating and tragic nights." The detainees were released after signing a bond. Although the case is not closed at the time of publishing this article, observers say those arrested are unlikely to be charged.
One detainee informed that he and the others were sent to a lock-up, then to court before a magistrate and remanded for two days. "We were all put in handcuffs and chains like criminals," he said. Other detainees told of similar experiences.
"What we went through was beyond words. The humiliation, the verbal insults, striping to our underwear in a dirty and cold cell full of graffiti and bugs; shit and shower in the same place; handcuffed and chained even when we went to the toilet and while eating. Those with high blood pressure and diabetic problems were without medication for 48 hours," Goh added.
Help from the Community
Throughout this ordeal, some organisations and individuals stepped up to the plate working round the clock to help. PT Foundation was in contact with the Legal Aid Centre in Kuala Lumpur, and with people from PLUPenang. Darryl, P.H. Yap and Bern Chua contacted friends in Penang to find a lawyer to represent the detainees. Yap and Chua spent full days at the station and in the magistrates' court, liaising between those detained and the lawyer. P. H. Yap and his friends bought food and refreshments - reportedly paid for by the owner of G-Word - for the detainees.
"I am sure many others lend a helping hand. I am very encouraged by their actions, and wish to thank them for their selfless community spirit," said Raymond Tai, Head of MSM Programme, PT Foundation.
Why the Raid?
A local newspaper, The Star, owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a national political party, quoted the police as saying that the raid was part of its ongoing "Ops Bersih (operation clean) aimed at keeping all types of vice activities in check."
Other reasons have however been posited. According to some people, the rather "harsh" treatment arose because the owner of G-Word Fitness Centre was not around and was not contactable during the raid. It was speculated that things might have turned out quite differently if the owner was there to smooth things over with the police.
Shanon Shah of Amnesty International Malaysia pointed out that "raids like this don't happen in isolation. One raid leads to another, and it's usually a political tactic to divert the people from more pressing issues of concern. The thing is, we have to keep an eye out."
The case is being closely watched by the gay community as well as local and international human rights organisations.
The Penal Code
Section 377 of Malaysia's Penal Code, which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and acts of "gross indecency," hangs like the proverbial sword of Damocles over the heads of gay men. Although the laws do not explicitly mention homosexuality or homosexual acts (after being amended in 1989 to be gender neutral), the laws are available as a tool to intimidate, harass, extort and exploit gay men and gay-friendly businesses. The attendant publicity - the potential outing - is that very thing which makes gay men vulnerable. The press too is not ashamed to exploit this vulnerability selling itself with sensational news.
There are no known cases of the laws being used against consenting adults, gay or straight, except in the controversial case of former Malaysian DPM Anwar Ibrahim who was convicted in 2000 for sodomy. The conviction was later reversed in 2004.
The Malaysian government's approach to Penal Code 377 is no different from the Singapore government's application of Section 377A of the Penal Code. Both governments continue to perpetuate prejudice and execute a law that unjustly discriminates and leaves a segment of the population vulnerable to exploitation. The Singapore government, after an open debate, has nonetheless proudly and publicly declared that anal intercourse between heterosexual couples is legal but not so for gay men. The Malaysian government says nothing but continues to invoke that code when dealing with gay men's sexuality.
In the context of AIDS prevention and outreach programmes, Raymond Tai of PT Foundation said: "This draconian Penal Code 377 continues to allow the authorities to drive gay-friendly saunas underground, operating as 'fitness centres,' 'spas,' etc. This in turn encourages extortions by enforcement officers and poses a big challenge for us at PTF to do safer sex outreach to these places." PTF's current recourse is to engage in closed-door discussions with government and enforcement officers so that PTF is able to take small practical steps to keep its community protected.
What Needs to be Done
Anal intercourse between consenting adults regardless of their sexual orientation must be decriminalised. Simply because the law is inhumane and unjust. There is no longer any justification for the discrimination of gay people and the criminalisation of the anal intercourse. With decriminalisation, the gay community would be less vulnerable to unreasonable searches and raids.
In the mean time, gay-focused and human rights organisations within and without country - PT Foundation, Suaram, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, women's groups and others - will need to engage with the civil society to widen the democratic space for Malaysians, where there is real respect for equality in a diverse society. Malaysians need to be educated more about their civil liberties and mobilised to stand up and speak out against discrimination of minorities. The socio-political climate needs to change before taking on Section 377.
At present, the local gay organisations lack a locally based organised response mechanism to manage situations like the raid on G-Word. PT Foundation advocates for more grassroots-based organisation to mobilise and is offering to train interested groups and volunteers in basic human rights, arrests and detention issues so that they can assist should more raids occur.
PT Foundation is seeking the Legal Aid Centre's advice on this matter, and encourage all those who are concerned to write in. PFT is also offering para-legal training to those who wish to volunteer their services, hiring staff and seeking volunteers for a number of programmes they are running, for details please check the web site and/or email email@example.com.
My heart goes out to the individuals who received such barbaric treatment. It is a truly sad day - when one realises that there are those who rape, murder and steal running around, and all whilst these true atrocities occur, the police force occupies itself chasing after homosexuals. All in the name of......? A nice little envelope of goodies from the proprietor of the fitness centre? A token opportunity/chance to persecute a group of society they deem disgusting?
When does it end?
Perhaps someone who claims to have a Masters.sss (zzz) of Bull Shit from the University of Kampong can justify these typical barbaric acts.
Be patient. Doesn't take long for the kampong serpent to crawl out of its Hole! It needs to feed on trash.:D
your comment is very racist, unfortunately,
I have been living in Malaysia for many years, and Its a wonderful country, Lovely people...
Besides, these things happen everywhere,
Just look at Singapore... and someother countries.
So, if we try to solve problems, its by pointing the mistakes, not with stupid comments on races and religions or whole nations.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
For years,there have been deplorable situation facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in a number of countries around the world including Malaysia.And for years,I lived in a Muslim nation that was severely condemnatory of homosexual behavior. I know about anti-gay persecution from first hand experience.
Most of those who are persecuted never even get the chance to escape from their homeland. Many of them, especially the young, commit suicide rather than face a life of hellish torture,humiliation, imprisonment, and even execution.
Now, I want to do something to help people like this on a larger scale. It is time for local and international human rights groups to take a stand against homophobic violence, in the same way that they moved so firmly in the struggle against the evils of apartheid.
We need multiple approaches and strategies to be effective.What PTF said in this article is true, for people in Malaysia who need to be moderate in order to try to convince the govt to change. However, there is also the need for some other groups to stand up strongly and condemn the government's terrible actions without compromise. This is the role that you can do as an insider and me,as an outsider.
As an outsider,we can say things that PTF cannot do because they are there. So, yes, I think it would be very good to have an organization in Malaysia with a title like " Malaysian Coalition for Equality and Freedom" where we try to get both gay and non-gay (but pro-gay supportive) human rights activists to press from within, on both gay and non-gay human rights issues.
But for Malaysians who are outside of the country, we could have a more confrontive approach.WE can start something like CAMPAIGN TO BOYCOTT HOMOPHOBIC GOVERNMENTS movement.Then,we need to be very specific in the organization's
statement of purpose, saying that we are only going to focus on the absolute worst governments in the world.
Maybe say something like this:
Prejudice against homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender, and gender-nonconformist people is common in many nations. Though those nations still have so-called "sodomy laws" that criminalize homosexual behavior, in many cases governments are not currently using such laws to punish people. While we strongly favor the repeal of sodomy laws in all countries, and are adamently opposed to homophobic prejudice in general, this boycott is directed specifically against governments that are currently persecuting and/or imprisoning people on the basis of their same-sex sexual behavior and/or gender nonconformity.
The boycott will remain in effect until those governments change their policies, and governmentally-sanctioned persecution has ceased.
Economic pressure is effective in persuading governments to change, when reasoned arguments alone do not suffice.
Hit them in their pocketbook, where it hurts!!!
Please join me in a grassroots effort to build an international boycott against homophobic persecution.
** The power is in your hands to help your brothers and sisters in these countries, who have no power. The time to make a stand against injustice is now.
For more details,pls email me at:
If you are being caught while having sex in that place well all I can say is that, the police did nothing wrong, and you are just bad luck!
If you wanna have sex, please go to somewhere else.
This is a regular raid (they call it OPS as for operation) that the authority carry out on every other week at every other clubs and massage parlour. It happened that the very unfortunate weekend was GWorld. Mind you Gworld has been operating for so long and only now it was raided and how often you heard gay club in KL or penang making headlines in the news?
BTW, 48hours in jail applies to apprehended chinese female prostitutes from china, indonesian illlegal workers at construction site, patrons with positive drug urine test in club etc, or traditional massage center turn brothel.
Do you think that the straight community would shout at the top of their lungs or get UN help to take action on Malaysian government to stop these raid as the aforementioned activities are part of straight community culture?
Anyway, If i were to go to any gay fitness center or spa, i have only one intention.
Do in Malaysia as the Malaysians do.
Go to Buddist country instead Muslim country for the PARTY~
"I want to live together with the Muslim people, but it takes two to tango.
- Pim Fotuyn
Key human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have affirmed States' obligation to ensure effective protection of all persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the international response has been fragmented and inconsistent, creating the need for a consistent understanding of the comprehensive regime of international human rights law and its application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Yogyakarta Principles (U.N.) address the broad range of human rights standards and their application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
These include extrajudicial executions, violence and torture, access to justice, privacy, non-discrimination, rights to freedom of expression and assembly, employment, health, education, immigration and refugee issues, public participation, and a variety of other rights.
many guys in towels walking around when the police arrived but non were arrested. He was lucky enough only to have his IC details noted.
In G word, all those locked up were fully clothed at the time of the raid ! Fully attired is a vice but naked in a towel is not.. don't really understand what is going with the authorities nowadays ?
Arresting wrong people for the sake of arresting does not reduce crimes. Around the time of the raid, a plu was found murdered in Penang. Has the murderer being arrested so efficiently as well ? Many murders happened but in many cases, those responsible are on the prowl...No wonder our crime rate is still on the rise...
Let me put it this way, say in your house your parent red handedly caught :-
1. You having sex with a guy in your house
2. Your sister having sex with a guy in your house.
Assuming both umarried teens. So what you think your parent will do? Can they say that its ok for you but not your sister?
Now put that into perspective where
Your house= malaysia
Your parent = malaysia authority
Your sister = representating straight commmunity
You = representing gay community.
We are not Myanmar, if you sanction us - we the minority Malaysians and Singaporeans will suffer.
Give it some thought, ya.
Just your regular tupperware party in progress.
You think we're all born yesterday?
Reference pentium8 post #17
I was surprised and disappointed to read such a post from a gay man. It lacks compassion and understanding of the oppression of gay men and women.If all people had taken this attitude we in the enlightened countries would still be where we were 40 years ago. Furthermore Buddhism has more connection with Malaysia than Islam which belongs in the Middle East. It`s in South East Asia by the sword.
Homosexuality does not have faith boundaries.
We, in the gay community, should spend more time reaching out and counselling our own people.
Rights we must have. But what rights ?? Rights to have orgies ?? Rights to hold parties ?? There are many other rights than those rights. Other than 377, haven't anyone noticed that we are fighting most of our time for the rights of our head between our legs ??
Clean Up Our Own Backyard Please.
BTW, I personally know of someone who is HIV+ and he is very angry, very very angry. I spend alot of time trying to change his attitude. God have mercy on those ignorant guys who insist that orgies are safe and everybody practise safe sex in those activities.
But there was no orgy party as the Police misinformed the press who gobbled it up hungrily. It was a terrible lie.
Also why complain about condoms being present, used or unused. Surely this is a sign of good intent, a sign that safe sex is important.
HOTGYMBOD you are just making things worse by propagating the Police lies. If it was such an awful crime then why will no one be charged, then the cops might have to hand back their coffee money. It was just one big series of headlines, expect for the real victims of course. Those guys I feel very sorry for, you have been used and abused.
I choose to work in the field and get the facts correct, and hopefully inform others about dangerous issues which are swept under the carpet in this part of the world. I prefer to advocate others in our community to be socially responsible.
i just hope one day malaysia won't become another Iran (oh, muslim country!) or indonesia where they kill gay men openly!!!
'now I know why you even loo so ugly just like a pig
no wounder why nobody wanted to fuck you here in MALAYSIA....haha. MALAYSIA is the best, people like you, TO RUBBISH CAN.... go live in china or singapore or whatever, Malaysia is Malaysia not chinasya... JERK'
i swear to everyone i did not make this up, and you can see it's not me who's being racist but muslim are generally being so close-minded, even to an afro hairstyle!
oh, and yes, his username is mahsumyelmaz (call himself Jerk; well he's really a wanker?)
But apart from that the real thing is different. One should really think the authorities are stupid if they approve a "gym" as gym with a name "G-World".... Anyone here to explain what is "G" in the name if not gay? So we have a Gay World "gym" and surprised that it has been raided in a country where gay activities are illegal even one-on-one.
Then once you go there and check the place, people walking knee deep in condoms (used or new) and still some expect the place not to be seen as a venue for gay sex activities. Even if there are some weights and other gym equipment to defer the examining eye of the officials.
Apparently the owner has never received a permit for running a place for gay sex activities but something else, e.g. gym. Then he paid the authorities off (as its the usual case in Malaysia) to shut the eyes - but (as the article stated) this time he was not around to "smoothen things out" then police went there and has found condoms, lubricants and stuff that are not very closely related to the original purpose of the outlet.
Now whats the hassle all about? Is it so unusual in Malaysia that police enforces the law, mostly if not paid off?
Make gay sex legal, clean corruption and dont be surprised in the meantime if you are caught for illegal activities if you try to mimic your activity as legal.
Those people attracted by the Malaysian government's my second home programme should think twice about this very different culture . Despite Penang's reputation for being a more Chinese and open society...the national government is not and Islam is alive and well.
im agree with some other comment... yup if u wan hav sex jz bring ur partner home or go to the hotel...more comfortable..if u plan to hav sex party jz organise at ur house lo... why wan go at public place...
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