Seksualiti Merdeka organisers hope to outlast ‘prejudicial’ law

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka are eyeing a post-2014 return when the law that led to the sexuality festival’s ban two years ago is set to be repealed.

Urging the public for continued support following the failed appeal for a judicial review of its 2011 ban on Monday, committee member Pang Khee Teik said the group will “march on” along other avenues in the meantime.

“I am happy to note that the Police Act (S27A (1) (c)) which gave them power to ban us would be repealed by late 2014,” Pang told The Malay Mail Online via during an online chat session.

“It means that we would be free to exercise our constitutionally protected freedom of expression without fear of the police acting arbitrarily in prejudice against us.”

Section 27, which previously grants the police power to regulate assemblies, meetings and processions has already been superseded by the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA).

But until then, Pang and the organisers do not plan to risk another event, despite noting that the ban was expressly against the 2011 festival.

Pang said there was no guarantee that the authorities would not crack down on the group again in a similar way.

“However, as the court claims it was in the police’s power to ban an activity in the course of investigating said activity, it means we are susceptible to such a ban again,” Pang said.

“So we have to decide whether we want to risk being banned ... I suppose the choices are plenty and we can always be creative.”

Until the law is abolished, Pang said the movement will explore other outlets in its bid continue promoting its cause

“We will continue to exercise our rights and promote justice and equality for all,” said Pang in a Facebook statement.

“We urge the members of the public to continue to support Seksualiti Merdeka and all groups that encourage public maturity and promote equality and social justice.”

On Monday, a three-member Court of Appeal panel led by Justice Datuk Clement Allan Skinner ruled that the police’s decision to ban the festival was not amenable to judicial review.

Skinner, together with Justices Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, upheld the March 1, 2012 decision of the High Court to dismiss a leave application for judicial review against the police ban.

The annual festival to promote sexuality rights that began in 2008 was banned by police in 2011 after Muslim groups alleged that it promoted homosexuality and sexual promiscuity.

Seksualiti Merdeka argued that the ban was uncalled for, unnecessary and a disproportionate response as it had organised events annually since its inception without triggering any public disorder, public enmity or incidents. 

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