Press Release from the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality
24 February 2012
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) condemns the posters depicting Ambiga Sreenevasan and A. Samad Said that have recently been displayed in parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
The posters, which display the words “Undi Ambiga, Undi Seks Bebas”, are part of a desperate attempt to undermine the integrity of Ambiga, who is a Malaysian of exemplary character and a role model to many.
Ambiga is a human rights defender who has achieved much in her career. She is a pioneer member of Women’s Aid Organisation and past President of the Malaysian Bar Council. She has continually demonstrated an unwavering commitment to social justice. As a leader with a strong social conscience, Ambiga is to be commended for her tireless work for the betterment of our country.
The posters insult the intelligence of Malaysians, who can see that they are a crude attempt to discredit BERSIH 2.0, the civil society movement led by Ambiga and Pak Samad that calls for clean and fair elections and demands an end to government corruption and dirty politics.
The intent of the posters is to link Ambiga with the Seksualiti Merdeka festival, itself the focus of a smear campaign and wrongly accused of promoting “seks bebas”. Seksualiti Merdeka is an annual festival that provides a safe space for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to come together to share knowledge about human rights. We should be clear: Ambiga was never involved in the organising of Seksualiti Merdeka, but was invited by the organisers to launch the festival.
To employ terms that identify diverse sexual orientations and gender identities as an insult perpetuates a culture of stigmatisation, persecution and hatred. Such action should not be tolerated. JAG condemns the continued vilification of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Malaysia.
JAG is appalled by the campaign to tarnish the character of Ambiga and other human rights defenders. We are shocked that fellow Malaysians can treat human rights defenders so poorly.
Released by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, which comprises:
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Perak Women for Women Society (PWWS)
Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
Sisters in Islam (SIS)
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)