I’m not an LGBT activist: Nisha Ayub

PUTRAJAYA: Transgender activist Nisha Ayub was pleased with today's meeting with Minister of Religious Affairs in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa which took place at the Block A lobby of the Putrajaya Islamic Complex.

Speaking to the press after the meeting here, Nisha reiterated that she had no knowledge that a portrait of her that was taken last year would be used by the organiser of the George Town Festival 2018.

“You can ask the organiser. I wasn't aware of the exhibition. I was only aware when I was tagged in Facebook.

“(However), I am in a secure place but what about my community? What about the trans sisters in Penang? What happens if they're beaten up?” she said.

She described the meeting as a stepping stone for the transgender community as previously they were sidelined by the previous government.

“I have never mentioned being an LGBT activist. I always mention being a trans activist because I don't have the right to represent to talk on behalf of other people.

“My whole agenda today is not to segregate other community because I feel the main issue is about the transgender community,” she said, adding the meeting was held after she approached Mujahid via Facebook.

She also suggested for the lesbian, gay and bisexual group to personally engage with the ministry.

Earlier, Mujahid had reprimanded the exhibition's organiser for failing to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Firstly, Nisha wasn't aware of the picture, secondly she didn't accept the LGBT label.

“One thing is for sure is that the organiser should do their homework. I'm taking the stance (to have the portraits taken down) in order to protect the safety of the people due to potential the backlash of the (transgender) label.

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“Can you imagine if the picture was there for a month? For me, the organiser should be blamed. You don't put up pictures of people without permission and you don't place labels to people who don't belong to such activism,” he said.

He echoed Nisha's statement that the meeting was a positive step for both parties as the discussion beyond the exhibition in Penang.

He said discrimination among transgenders is still rampant at their workplace and urged the public to stop it.

“They are not asking for same-sex marriage or special rights. If the organiser did not put the LGBT (label) then I don't mind,” he added.

Earlier today, the US Embassy in Malaysia expressed support for Nisha and fellow LGBT activist Pang Khee Teik in an Instagram post.

“Pictures are worth a thousand words, but actions speak even louder. We stand proudly with 2016 International Women of Courage Award winner Nisha Ayub and Pang Khee Teik and the work they do to promote #tolerance and #acceptance,” it said via its official Instagram account @usembassykl which featured Nisha's photo holding the Jalur Gemilang flag.

Ironically, Mujahid had said that he had issued the instructions for the removal of Nisha and Pang's portraits.

He said the duo's portraits were removed from the month-long “Stripes and Strokes” exhibition as they promoted LGBT activities.

“I was informed of the exhibition that showcased their pictures in a public gallery.

“I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby recently.

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Both were photographed with the Jalur Gemilang.

Nisha is the first transgender woman to receive the International Women of Courage Award in 2016, while Pang is the co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka.