PSM Gender Bureau refers to the National World AIDS Day celebration that will be held in Kompleks Belia dan Sukan Paroi, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan on 1 December 2022.
One of the events scheduled is a religious talk titled Peranan Masyarakat dalam Membenteras HIV/AIDS or the Role of Society in Combating HIV/AIDS by Prof Madya Dato’ Dr Izhar Ariff bin Mohd Kashim from the Faculty of Religious Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). The one-hour talk is even highlighted in black in the programme, which suggest that it is one of the main sessions in the event.
The speaker who is also known as Ustaz Izhar Ariff has consistently advocated against the health and well-being of transgender and LGBT persons in general. In 2020, he posted malicious, spiteful and stigmatising statements against transgender women saying that God has cursed the transgender community on his Facebook posting. His consistent and extreme views is contrary to this year’s World AIDS Day theme ‘Equalize’ which aims to address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS. As noted by UNAIDS stigma is a key barrier in ending AIDS.
As such having a speaker who openly espouses transphobic views is not only harmful and counterproductive to the 2030 goal to end AIDS, but it also against the very spirit of World AIDS Day. By giving him a platform, MOH has created an unsafe space and further increase trust deficit towards government medical institutions among the LGBT population.
Further to this, from the title of talk that will be given by the preacher it does not seem to be relevant to the World AIDS Day theme this year.
The transgender persons/population in Malaysia are persecuted, criminalised and vilified openly in Malaysia. Many research shows that LGBT people still face high levels of stigma by medical professionals, face increased fear to access healthcare services and such.
We call the Ministry of Health, the Malaysian AIDS Council and the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, to ensure proper vetting of speakers and ensure that their views are consistent with the global goal to end AIDS by 2030 by ensuring rights and dignity of key affected populations.
PSM Gender Bureau
1 December 2022