How the Malaysian Islamic Party’s Attempt to Ban Ed Sheeran Exposes the Country’s Anti-LGBTQ+ Sentiment

7 min read
how the malaysian islamic party's attempt to ban ed sheeran exposes the country's anti lgbtq+ sentiment

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country in Southeast Asia, with a population of about 32 million and a GDP of about 365 billion USD. The country is governed by a constitutional monarchy and a federal parliamentary system, with Islam as the official religion and Malay as the official language. The country is known for its cultural diversity, natural beauty, and economic development, but also faces various challenges and issues, such as corruption, inequality, and human rights violations.

Ed Sheeran is one of the most popular and successful artists in the world, with a career spanning more than 10 years and 5 studio albums. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter has won 4 Grammy Awards, sold over 150 million records worldwide, and broken numerous records and milestones in the music industry. He is known for his catchy and heartfelt songs, his humble and friendly personality, and his support and advocacy for various causes, such as education, poverty, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Sheeran is scheduled to perform at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on February 24, 2024, as part of his Mathematics World Tour. This will be his second concert in Malaysia, after his first one in 2017.

Attempt

However, his concert has been met with opposition and resistance from the Malaysian Islamic Party (or Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS), a conservative and Islamist opposition party that has a strong influence and presence in the rural and northern states of the country. PAS has called on the government to cancel Sheeran’s concert, citing his pro-LGBTQ+ stance as a reason.

PAS has accused Sheeran of promoting and spreading the LGBTQ+ ideology, which it considers as immoral and sinful, and contrary to the teachings and values of Islam and Malaysia. PAS has also claimed that Sheeran’s concert would pollute and disrespect the sanctity of the month of Ramadan, which is expected to start on March 12, 2024.

PAS has urged the government to take a firm stand and to respect the sentiments and wishes of the majority of Muslims in the country, who reject and oppose the LGBTQ+ agenda. PAS has also warned the government of the consequences and repercussions of allowing Sheeran’s concert to proceed, such as public anger and protest, social unrest and disorder, and divine wrath and punishment.

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Exposure

The attempt by PAS to ban Sheeran’s concert has exposed and highlighted the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, as well as the political and social dynamics and tensions in the country. The attempt has revealed and reflected the following aspects:

  • The anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Malaysia is widespread and deep-rooted, as the LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination, violence, and persecution from the state, the society, and even their own families. The LGBTQ+ community has no legal recognition or protection in the country, and is subject to various laws and penalties that criminalize and punish their identity and expression, such as the Penal Code, the Syariah (Islamic) Law, and the Sedition Act.
  • The anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Malaysia is also influenced and fueled by the conservative and Islamist forces in the country, such as PAS, which have a significant and vocal role and representation in the political and religious spheres. These forces have often used the LGBTQ+ issue as a tool and a tactic to mobilize and galvanize their supporters and followers, and to challenge and criticize the government and its policies, especially on matters related to Islam and morality.
  • The anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Malaysia is also contrasted and contested by the progressive and liberal forces in the country, such as the human rights activists, the civil society groups, and the young and urban voters, who have a different and diverse view and perspective on the LGBTQ+ issue. These forces have often advocated and campaigned for the recognition and respect of the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, and have challenged and resisted the discrimination and oppression that they face.
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