Malaysia’s only openly gay pastor has urged LGBTs in the predominantly Muslim country to keep coming out so that together they can fight homophobia.
Reverend Ouyang Wen Feng, who caused controversy and even received violent threats when he opened a gay-friendly church in Malaysia in 2007, made these comments in an interview with the AFP.
“When society discriminates against gay people, you only push gay people into the closet,” he told AFP in an interview last week on a visit to Hong Kong to launch a new book on homosexuality and Christianity.
“When gay people stay in the closet, people don’t know what is gay or homosexuality and because of ignorance they keep discriminating and that will perpetuate prejudice,” said the outspoken 41-year-old.
“Gay people cannot just blame straight people for not understanding us.” Ouyang, wearing a flesh-coloured top with a crucifix and tattoos on his shoulder and arm, called on gay Malaysians to show their “true faces and tell them who we are”.
Same-sex relationships can be punished in Malaysia under the country’s anti-sodomy laws, and though rarely enforced there is a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Ouyang, who was once married to a woman who in turn encouraged him to come out, now lives in the New York with his same-sex partner. He teaches sociology at collage-level while also pursuing a doctoral degree in theology. He has published over 23 books, many related to religion and gay Christians.
Ouyang’s Malaysian church continues to grow, as does the visibility of Malaysia’s LGBT community. This has angered many religious conservatives in the country and Malaysia’s government has categorically said that the church will not be allowed to run as an official religious institution.
Ouyang, who makes frequent trips back to Malaysia to continue his cause, remains defiant that he is not “promoting homosexuality” as some have charged. Rather he contends he is promoting honesty and trying to help LGBTs in the country live their lives authentically and free from discrimination.
You can click here to read the full AFP article, where you can also read how Ouyang’s partner proposed to him just two days after New York legalized gay marriage.
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