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Islam is not known for its tolerance of the LGBT community and its lifestyle, even though in many Muslim countries sex between men is not uncommon due to the prohibitions of interaction between the sexes. I reached out to some friends, and in turn a couple of brave Malays stepped forward to be interviewed. Members of the Malay ethnic group basically have no choice in their religion. Relatives are usually the most persistent ones who never fail to ask: “So when is your time? (Eid), weddings, and other communal Malay gatherings.

I suppose the worst off among the gay community are the transvestites and transgender people in Malaysia, as their appearances are more apparent than their “straight-acting” counterparts.

I have met many and worked with a couple in a theatre troupe I joined while working in Kedah.

I can say their lifestyle is more difficult as they need to make ends meet while putting up with the stigma that still exists for people like them.

Of course, their hardships are also related in some ways by their socioeconomic situation and educational backgrounds.

So keeping up appearances is still a big deal in Malaysia I would think, that is if you want to thrive in some sort of way. But the advent of social media and smartphone apps like Grindr, Wechat, and others enables gay men to socialise in a more efficient but still private manner.

In the late 90s to mid-2000s, Malaysian netizens loved using online chat software like MIRC or the relay chat things.

Sodomy is still against the law in Malaysia, so that is quite clear cut.

But the religious state laws, which apply only to Muslims, varies from state to state and usually concern dressing up like a member of the opposite sex, or holding events that have “immoral” things such as drag-like performances.

It created an uproar among people as the deputy minister, who also launched the event, agreed to the topics at the talk, one of which was that gay men could be identified by a penchant for wearing V-neck T-shirts, carrying large handbags, wearing light-coloured outfits, and sleeveless shirts.

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