GEORGE TOWN, Aug 8 — Penang State Secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus today said he had instructed the organisers of the George Town Festival (GTF) to remove the portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik from a photography exhibition here.
He said this was due to complaints he received over the two portraits after the Stripes and Strokes exhibition opened at the Dewan Sri Pinang last weekend.
“I received complaints from the public and the Prime Minister’s Department on Monday so I asked GTF to take down the portraits,” he told reporters at the Penang state legislative assembly.
He, however, said this does not mean the Penang state government does not respect the LGBT community.
“We do not want to encourage the open promotion of LGBT,” he said adding that he was not at the opening of the exhibition last Saturday.
“If I was there and saw it, I would ask them to take it down.
“After receiving the complaints, Joe Sidek was cooperative by removing it on Tuesday morning,” he added, referring to the GTF director.
Farizan brushed off the issue as a small matter by insisting that “it is not a big issue to us”.
He added that while it was not wrong to debate the issue of LGBT rights in the legislative assembly, the state government was not compelled to promote it.
The two portraits were part of 20 portraits of various Malaysians holding the Malaysian flag.
Nisha had questioned the removal of the portraits and demanded the state government to state its stand on the LGBT community in Malaysia.
Penang state exco Chong Eng had said the portraits should not have been removed as there was nothing wrong for someone to express their love for the country.