Sexuality in Malaysia

Posted: September 12, 2006 in All and Sundry

The topic gender and sexuality was something that was always at the back of my mind when I was in Kuala Lumpur, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time and the right people to discuss this with for fear of unconsciously standing on a cultural landmine.

Yes, being a feminist is a difficult place to be in my country, but more often than not, it is more difficult to be a feminist outside my country’s borders where gender boundaries are alien to me. So what usually happens is that I tend to downplay my feminist/women’s/gender studies side and shift my framework to a more subdued way of liberal thinking. I don’t know if I succeeded. (I just discovered that if I google my name, what I see is my name attached to the Women’s Studies Center of UP. Argh. )

Anyway, this paper from the latest issue “Queering: Social Movements and Feminist Theories of Women In Action (a publication of the Isis International Manila) entitled:“Sexuality under Attack:The Political Discourse on Sexuality in Malaysia” somehow answered my questions. But not quite. What makes this paper interesting, among other critical observations, is this statement:

Most discussions on LGBTIQ issues have yet to find any dedicated space in the discourse on sexuality in Malaysia, where discussions about sex and sexual rights itself are very cloistered. Most discussions on LGBTIQ issues have been within the rubric of HIV/AIDS, which has invariably made the LGBTIQ community seem inextricably linked and responsible for the spread of the virus, further adding to the stigmatisation of both the community and the discourse on HIV/AIDS.”

hmmm… something to ponder on. I’m looking forward to engaging on discussions on other sexuality/gender discourses with some friends, or would-be friends in KL in the future.


  1. sam says:

    Well, sad to say… I do have a friend who believe that chances of HIV infection is higher for homosexual intercourse. I argued with him that it does not really matter if you shag a man or a woman, if the person you are shagging is infected with HIV, your chances are very high for infection. He argued back: “But homosexuals shag around with a lot of people, heteros don’t.” Whoa… his ignorance just rendered me speechless. And yes! We do have people like that in Malaysia.

  2. reefer says:

    thanks for the comment sam. yes, indeed, that’s a very common misconception among heterosexuals not just in your country but in my county as well. it’s a sign of the prevalence of ignorant perceptions on the issues surrouding the topic of HIV. so sad.

    i do believe that discussions on AIDs and HIV cannot be separated from discussions on gender biases against homosexuality and locating it in a particular cultural context.

    you’re right. shagging is shagging. and unprotected shagging is the way it is, “unprotected.”

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