Advocacy groups denounce homophobic remarks made by lecturer on National World AIDS Day

Photo: Dr Izhar Ariff Mohd Kashim (right)/UKM website. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime marked World Aids Day by projecting giant AIDS Ribbon on UN building (left)/Unis Vienna Flickr
Photo: Dr Izhar Ariff Mohd Kashim (right)/UKM website. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime marked World Aids Day by projecting giant AIDS Ribbon on UN building (left)/Unis Vienna Flickr

During a National World AIDS Day programme yesterday, a senior lecturer from a local public institution made a speech that angered advocacy groups because he allegedly made homophobic remarks against persons living with HIV and the LGBT community.

The Malaysian Aids Council (MAC) and the Malaysia Aids Foundation (MAF) in a statement expressed their disappointment and said they were shocked at the discriminatory comments made by the lecturer.

“It was very unfortunate that the speaker on the role of society in combating HIV and Aids, Associate Professor Dr Izhar Ariff Mohd Kashim from the Faculty of Religious Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) chose to make disparaging and hurtful remarks towards people living with HIV, the LGBTQI+ community, and other key populations at this World Aids Day event.

In his speech, Izhar had allegedly told the transgender community to repent and that being queer is a “mental disorder”. He also accused the community and its practices of being the root cause of HIV. He claimed that people in a “normal” relationship would not contract the infection. 

“This was even more inappropriate given that this was a World Aids day celebration. The MAC raised their concerns before the meeting and was reassured that the speaker had been briefed and that no discriminatory remarks would be made.

“MAC will officially write a letter of complaint to the MOH and the Negri Sembilan Health Department to respond to this incident,” it said in a statement. 

The advocacy groups said stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV are counterproductive and will advertently discourage people at risk from seeking health services. 

In collective efforts to end the HIV epidemic by the year 2030, the Health Ministry (MOH), in collaboration with the MAC and MAF, together with the Negri Sembilan Health Department organised the 2022 National World Aids Day Celebration Programme at the Kompleks Belia & Sukan in Paroi, Seremban, yesterday. 

MAC also urged the media, local governments, and communities to respond with a rights-based, evidence-based approach that avoids stigma and discrimination.

“We also urge the organisers to include MAC in the screening and vetting of speakers for such future events,” read the statement.

Izhar was also criticised for his alleged remarks on Twitter by MAF Chairman Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who also slammed him for promoting misinformation about how HIV and AIDS are transmitted.



Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


BECOME A COCO+ MEMBER

Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on

MOST POPULAR