LGBTQ rights advocates in Malaysia are calling for justice after video footage showed two gay men being attacked by a violent mob.
A nearly two-minute clip that went viral Thursday depicts a pair of shirtless men being pulled from their vehicle and assaulted by anti-LGBTQ vigilantes. According to a translation of the video conducted by the news site Free Malaysia Today, the attackers accuse them of “committing a sin” before demanding to see their identification cards.
“Did you forget God?” one assailant allegedly asks the couple during the incident. “It’s a shame!”
The identities of the victims—including their current whereabouts—are unknown at this time. Video posted online of the attack racked up hundreds thousands of views after the Pelangi Campaign, a local activist group, posted it to Facebook. The clip has since been removed.
We have received unverified report about a viral video of two young men that were beaten up by a group of people for allegedly having gay sex. We categorically condemn this anti-gay violence and call on the Malaysian authority to investigate on this hate crime.
Enough is enough
— PELANGI Campaign (@pelangicampaign) December 27, 2018
President Numan Afifi claimed LGBTQ Malaysians are “appalled” by yet another act of violence against their community.
“We urge the police to investigate the assault without fear and favor and proactively provide security protection for the victims and LGBTQ community at large from being targeted in other jurisdictions,” he said in a statement shared with INTO.
In a series of messages, Numan confirmed that activists had filed a police report to authorities in Kuala Lumpur—even though the site of the attack is unknown.
Activists could not comment on the state of the investigation.
Supporters of LGBTQ equality urged police to be vigilant in following through on the reports. Human rights attorney Eric Paulsen, who serves as the legal director for Fortify Rights, called upon law enforcement agents to prosecute the case as a “hate crime.”
“Everyone deserves equal protection under the law,” he claimed on Twitter.
This is serious assault, an aggravated hate crime. Hope the authorities will investigate & arrest the perpetrators.
Everyone deserves equal protection under the law. https://t.co/rrq8C6SFgE
— Eric Paulsen (@EricPaulsen101) December 27, 2018
But as Numan pointed out, this case isn’t the first in which LGBTQ Malaysians have been harmed or even killed as a result of mob violence. Earlier this month, a transgender woman was murdered by a group of teenagers in the district of Klang. Reports say she sustained “multiple injuries” before her death.
A similar anti-trans assault occurred earlier this year after a 32-year-old woman was besieged by eight men in Negeri Sembilan. The victim was hospitalized in August after sustaining a punctured spleen and broken ribs.
The most recent reports claim she was in critical condition following the incident.
According to Numan, the recent surge in attacks on Malaysia’s LGBTQ community over the past few years is the result of “moral policing and homophobia.”
“Thus, in a country where peace and harmony prevail, we must acknowledge that this is a continuing extremist threat that targets not only the LGBTQ community but also other minority groups at risk, including women and religious minorities,” he told INTO.
Malaysia is the world’s second-largest Muslim-majority democracy after Indonesia.
Although the previous administration was known for its imperious treatment of LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups, human rights campaigners hoped the election of a new government in May would usher in a wave of religious moderation and tolerance toward queer and trans people.
Those promises have yet to come to fruition.
Just weeks after the election, two women in Terengganu were arrested and subsequently caned after they were discovered “trying to have sex” in a parked car. They were flogged eight times as a crowd of 100 watched.
Currently, same-sex intercourse is illegal in Malaysia, punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Anwar Ibrahim, the man who is widely believed to be the country’s next prime minister, has called for those laws (which stem from the colonial era) to be struck down. In a November appearance at the George Town Literary Festival, he referred to the criminal codes as “archaic” and “unjust.”
But while Malaysia’s LGBTQ community fights for its future, Pelangi urges anyone with more information about this week’s attack to come forward.
“Currently, we are still monitoring the alarming situation and call for eyewitnesses of the violent incident to immediately report it to human rights groups or bodies and the authority,” Numan claimed.
Image via Getty