Rising anti-LGBT sentiment pushes 38.6% to consider fleeing Malaysia: survey

In a not-so-shocking revelation, Justice for Sisters (JFS) surveys found a staggering 38.6 percent of Malaysia’s LGBTQ+ community contemplating escape – migrating or seeking asylum – due to escalating anti-LGBT sentiment. 

This “pink exodus,” as JFS calls it, paints a grim picture of forced displacement and lost talent, with far-reaching consequences for both individuals and the nation.

“This isn’t just a brain drain issue,” warns JFS co-founder S. Thilaga. “It’s also a class issue. Those with means, often professionals, can flee to accepting countries, usually developed ones in the West. But for many, that’s not an option,” MalayMail quoted Thilaga as saying. 

Caught between a rock and a hard place, LGBTQ+ Malaysians face a stark choice: assimilate into the dominant heteronormative and cisnormative society, or live a stifled, concealed existence. This dilemma was highlighted at the recent launch of JFS’ media guide on reporting conversion practices in Malaysia.

“The pressure to self-censor, to silence yourself, is immense when the state itself promotes these harmful practices,” Thilaga asserts, pointing to the Johor government’s proposed rehabilitation center for LGBTQ+ people, which she likened to torture.

The lack of trust in state and public institutions further exacerbates the issue. “Discrimination is rampant,” Thilaga explains, “leaving LGBTQ+ Malaysians vulnerable and hesitant to report violence or discrimination.”

This “pink exodus” isn’t just about statistics. It’s about real people, forced to uproot their lives, leave behind loved ones, and face new challenges in unfamiliar lands. 

For Faris Saad, JFS communications consultant, it’s a personal story too. “Leaving Malaysia was a painful decision,” he shares, “but the fear of living in constant danger was unbearable.”

The solution? JFS demands immediate action. The state must cease its complicity in promoting conversion practices and commit to protecting the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only then can Malaysia truly be a safe haven for its LGBTQ+ community, preventing the heartbreaking “pink exodus” and embracing the diverse tapestry of its people.


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