Peculiar Politics in Malaysia: A Queer Perspective on Non-Heteronormative Malay-Muslim Men

FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailBlogger Post
Ways of Queering, Ways of Seeing

Ways of Queering, Ways of Seeing. Image:

Goh, Joseph N. “Peculiar Politics in Malaysia: A Queer Perspective on Non-Heteronormative Malay-Muslim Men.” In Ways of Queering, Ways of Seeing, edited by Jillian E. Cox and Jo Grzelinska, 3-33. Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2015.


In this chapter, I postulate that the adamant insistence by Islamic and civil authorities on specific performativities of masculinity and sexuality to the extent of persecuting non-heteronormative Malay-Muslim men underwrites the pursuit of an image of Malay-Muslim cohesiveness. This politically motivated antagonism, in turn, secures the maintenance of political power. I further argue that heteronormative forms of masculinity and sexuality which claim the endorsement of institutional Islam are further fortified by their intersectionalities with categories of ethnicity, heteropatriarchy and citizenship. I first draw attention to the bid for greater Islamic moral authority between two political parties – the United Malays National Organisation and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party – by imposing particular norms of heteropatriarchy, masculinity, ethnicity, religiosity and citizenship on Malaysian Malay-Muslim men. Thereafter I briefly discuss how non-heteronormative Malaysian persons who are perceived as transgressing such norms meet with civil and religious condemnations, threats of corporeal punishments and anti-LGBT programmes. My focus is on non-heteronormative Malaysian Malay-Muslim men, notably writer Azwan Ismail who publicly disclosed his sexuality, and Ariff Alfian Rosli, a Malaysian student who was exposed in the media for undergoing a same-sex civil partnership in Ireland. Vitriolic attitudes towards non-heteronormative men are justified by perceptions of a contradiction of norms that have been sanctioned by institutional Islam and advocated by certain Malaysian politicians. My queering project thus demonstrates how non-heteronormative Malaysian Malay-Muslim men such as Azwan and Ariff become agents of effrontery and dislodgement who expose insidious political agendas that feed off heteronormative categories of masculinity and sexuality, and their multiple intersectionalities with religion, ethnicity, heteropatriarchy and citizenship.


Key Words: Citizenship, ethnicity, heteropatriarchy, Islam, politics, LGBT, Malaysian Malay-Muslim men, masculinity, non-heteronormative sexualities, queer theory, performativity, Barisan Nasional, PAS, UMNO.



Print pagePDF pageEmail page