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Seksualiti Merdeka: Independence and rights

SEKSUALITI Merdeka is an annual sexuality rights festival featuring a programme of talks, lectures, forums, workshops, theatre and music performances, interactive installations and film screenings. Launched in 2008, the festival aims to underscore the fact that even after 52 years of independence, many of us are still not free to be who we are.

The festival is being held for the second time this year from 12 to 16 Aug 2009 at the Annexe@Central Market. This year’s theme is Our Bodies, Our Rights. The festival will focus on issues such as privacy, moral policing and human rights that affect everyone.

The Fairly Current Show host Fahmi Fadzil speaks with Seksualiti Merdeka co-organiser and feminist activist Jac SM Kee to find out more about the festival and the issues at stake.

Kee is a writer who has been published by both online and offline journals, and a columnist for several Malaysian newspapers. She is also a poet and occasional painter.


This video interview first appeared on PopTeeVee. The site hosts other video interviews with notable personalities on notable issues.

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7 Responses to “Seksualiti Merdeka: Independence and rights”

  1. BSJT says:

    Good to know Malaysia is starting to open up to the real concept of diversity…

    A very good initiative!

  2. Petra says:

    Sure, this is a good start. But as a member of the LGBT community, I don’t think real change will come unless people stop being such busybodies about who is sleeping with whom. If a person is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, it does not affect anyone but him/herself, and his/her personal contacts. So I hope people, and the media too, will stop being such a nuisance to the LGBT community. Spread love not prejudice. And the only way this will happen, is by stoping and trying to understand what an LGBT person is going through.

    Viva Seksualiti Merdeka!

  3. Anak Kampung says:

    I thought this was a rather poor interview compared to the usual standards of the FCS. I came away not really understanding what the whole event was about – its goals, the programme, the issues being discussed, the speakers… It was also a missed opportunity for presenting a broad overview of the legal, cultural and political context around the most important sexuality “issues” in Malaysia. (That is to say, it would have been nice first to present the issues and then dig a bit deeper into the context.) The only thing I got was that the event is creating “space” which is generally lacking. Ok.

  4. Mr Keke says:

    Unfortunately, I felt the event didn’t really reach anyone except the small and niche market of activists and arts/creative people. All the thousands of LGBTs seen in bars, clubs, malls and gyms were not present, nor did they have any interest about changing the situation at all. They’d rather be a hidden community, forever alienated but safe among themselves. They’re widening the gap between “the straights” and “the people like us”.

    A lot of the guys I talk to who are non-activists, say that the situation is hopeless – nothing can be done with it, just bear with it, etc. Reminds me of the Malay [Malaysian] woman who drank alcohol and never questioned her punishment. This will just breed more ignorance both for themselves and the non-LGBT community…

    I wish there could be a wider, more public event and gathering (think of the Pink field day in Singapore with thousands of people), rather than just a few workshops in a hard-to-find-space with only around 20 people in attendance, most of them already acquainted with each other. It saddens me.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Mr Keke,

    I’m a gay woman but I don’t fall into the categories of the people you mentioned. I’m neither artsy nor creative and am not an activist but I attended Seksualiti Merdeka events with some straight friends and thought it was a well-organised and timely event. I think that events like Seksualiti Merdeka are very much needed, even if they only initially reach a small group of people. As Confucius said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, one step at a time. The critical step is to create a safe space for the awareness of sexuality rights to germinate and to let other LGBT folks know that they’re not alone and more importantly, for that space for education and understanding about the need for equality to exist. I found the SM events I attended highly empowering and my straight friends said that they learned something new from attending the events.

    To all LGBTs who say that the situation here is hopeless, my question would be this – what have you done to improve the situation? Change begins with the self, so be the change, don’t depend on others to do it for you. If there are people who care to organise things like SM, support them. If there’s a better way of doing things, suggest solutions, instead of just highlighting shortcomings.

  6. Bumble Bee says:

    A relative recently asked me whether a man using anal beads was considered gay. I told her, if his preferences doesn’t disrupt the office nor does it interrupt the flow in the organisation, why should she bother?

    Needless to say, a busybody wrecks more havoc than a quiet queer.

  7. Yuki Choe says:

    Issues were presented inwards. We are speaking to ourselves. Real change can only begin when we start speaking outwards to people around us. Unfortunately, many do not have the courage.


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