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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Seksualiti Merdeka fails to get ban reviewed


The High Court ruled that the police have the power under the Police Act to ban the programme.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur High Court today rejected Seksualiti Merdeka’s leave of application to pursue a judicial review against a police ban of its programme in 2011.
In a decision made in the chambers, Justice Rohana Yusuf said Section 21 of the Police Act empowers the police to impose a ban pending an investigation and the leave application was academic in nature as it was filed after the ban was placed.
In November, the police summarily banned the annual Seksualiti Merdeka festival, claiming the movement was a threat to religious freedom in the country.
The event, which is held to create awareness among the public on homosexuals and transgenders, was supposed to be officiated by Bersih 2.0 chairman S Ambiga.
Seksualiti Merdeka organisers duly filed a judicial review in December last year to argue the legality of the ban, naming Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar, his deputy Khalid Abu Bakar and Dang Wangi deputy OCPD Nor Azman Muhammad Yusuf as respondents.
The legal counsel for Seksualiti Merdeka organisers, Honey Tan, decried the judge’s decision, saying it was curtailing a citizen’s constitutional right.
“Cases such as this are always taken to court after the ban is imposed. Rohana’s decision means that the police’s power cannot be reviewed in court,” said Tan.
Seksualiti Merdeka organiser, Pang Khee Teik, claimed that Rohana also told them that the police ban cannot be reviewed as it could put the country into a standstill and destabilise national security.
“In my view, Malaysia has always been on a standstill in terms of human rights.
“When the police’s arbitrary powers cannot be reviewed in court, we are allowing the police to get away with abuse of power,” said Pang.
Fellow organiser, S Thilaga, said the decision was nothing short of discrimination where the voice of the extremists had drowned the voice of reason.
The organisers would file an appeal to the decision pending a discussion with its lawyers.

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