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Malaysian authorities attack LGBT Halloween party

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Islamic religious officers in Malaysia disrupted a major Halloween party attended by the LGBT community and arrested 20 people for cross-dressing and allegedly inciting vice, activists said on Sunday.

Activist Numan Afifi, who was among those arrested at the event in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday night, described the raid as “traumatic and heartbreaking”.

“About 40 religious officers backed by police entered the hall with some 1,000 attendees, and they stopped the music and the dancing,” he told AFP.

Numan said authorities divided revelers into two groups: Muslims and followers of other religions.

Subsequently, 20 Muslims were taken to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department where “our identity details were registered”.

“Some have been charged with cross-dressing crimes while others, including me, have been charged with encouraging vice,” Numan said.

All 20 were released hours later but are due to return next week for questioning.

The LGBT community has continually suffered from discrimination, with conservative attitudes eroding the Muslim-majority nation’s reputation for moderation and tolerance.

Malaysia has a dual track legal system, with Sharia courts handling some cases for Muslim citizens, who make up around 60% of the population.

Homosexuality is prohibited, and laws criminalizing sodomy can result in jail time, corporal punishment, and fines, although enforcement of the law is rare.

Siti Kassim, a human rights lawyer, condemned the raid, saying “moral policing must end”.

“These people are not criminals. The oppression and discrimination against LGBT people must stop immediately,” she told AFP.

Opposition politician Carles Santiago called the raid a “harassment against a marginalized community”.

“When will we learn to respect and accept people for who they are? he tweeted.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized Malaysian authorities for discrimination and offered programs to “cure” LGBT people.

“These programs undermine the equality, dignity and rights of those who attend them, but also send a dangerous message to the general public that LGBT people can and should change their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. said Human Rights Watch. in August.