Friday, September 3, 2010

Malaysian Pastor Vows to go ahead with Gay Church!

You can read the full article here:

And here are excerpts taken from the article:
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – When Malaysia's only openly homosexual pastor announced he was establishing the nation's first gay church back in 2007, the proposal was met with a torrent of outrage and criticism.

Reverend Ouyang Wen Feng faced down threats to block the plan by government and religious leaders who said it would encourage homosexuality -- still a crime punishable by 20 years in jail in the Muslim-majority nation.

The church he co-founded has however been operating quietly in suburban Kuala Lumpur for the past three years, drawing a group of gay Christians for Sunday services and bible studies.

Ouyang's battle is part of a campaign being fought on many fronts in Malaysia, where there is a growing sense of activism among the gay community which is beginning to mobilise to fight for its rights.

"We are working on encouraging more people to join the church, for Christians to come out and live authentic lives," says the pastor, who was married for nine years until he "came out" publicly in 2006.

"Whether one is gay or straight or bisexual, they are sexual orientations, it is not something we do that makes us gay."

Ouyang says the church, which also embraces bisexuals and transsexuals as well as welcoming heterosexuals to its services, wants to help the community know they are not "alone in fighting the battle".

"When I was young, how I wished someone who was good, highly admired and respected in the society could come out and tell me 'I am gay too,'," says the 40-year-old.

Homosexuality remains a social taboo across the racial and religious spectrum in Malaysia, a conservative country which is also home to large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities. Gay men and women are a visible presence out in public, and on the Internet where they are connected through online forums.

However, authorities periodically crack down on the thriving gay scene, carrying out raids at gay-friendly bars or massage parlours, leaving some with a constant fear of persecution.

 A recent police raid on two gay massage parlours in Taman Miharja, Cheras, earlier in May 2010...

Few feel they can declare their sexuality openly, and there was a dearth of groups representing the community until 2008, when the first "Seksualiti Merdeka" or "Sexual Independence" festival was held. Organiser Pang Khee Teik, an art gallery owner, said he was inspired by rising activism in the region. India and Nepal have de-criminalised homosexuality in recent years, in Thailand the annual Gay Pride festival is being revived, and even in conservative Indonesia there is an annual gay film festival.

"We thought the time was right to replicate something similar in Malaysia," Pang says. "We are trying to tell people: you have sexual rights whether the state recognises it or not."

"The long-term goal could be the repeal of laws against sodomy and oral sex for instance," says Pang, adding that anti-discrimination laws are also needed.

But religious figures who have an influential role in Malaysian society remain vehemently opposed to the new mood. A top religious body in 2008 also issued a "fatwa" or Islamic religious ban on lesbian sex.

"Homosexuality is going to destroy the world as we are not thankful to God's creation and we are going against His wishes," says outspoken Islamic cleric Harussani Zakaria.
"Homosexuality is a very bad thing. God has created men and women, how can it be man with man, and woman with woman?"

The gay community takes heart from small steps, including a recent Malaysian Film Censorship Board decision to reverse a ban on the depiction of homosexuality and allow gay characters to be featured in films.
But in an indication of the distance campaigners still have to go, the new guidelines also stipulate that gay characters must repent or go straight before the credits roll.

"They recognise that we do exist and that is a something positive, at least," says Azri, who has a boyfriend of five years, as he sips coffee at one of Kuala Lumpur's upmarket shopping malls.

"My ideal world is to be recognised as a couple and enjoy the rights just like any other heterosexual couples," says the boyish-looking 28-year-old.

"We can't rush, we are slowly building the momentum."

Reverand Ou Yang Wen Feng ( 欧阳文风 ) b. 1970

Rev Ou Yang Wen Feng, is a Malaysian pastor who serves at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in New York. He came out of the closet about his homosexuality in 2006 and is said to be the first pastor in Malaysia to do so.

A columnist in Sin Chew Daily, Ou Yang went to further his studies in the United States on the daily’s scholarship in the 90s.

Oyoung divorced his wife of 7 years in 2005, claiming that it was a mistake to marry her since he was a gay.

He has been in a relationship with Angel Ayala, a finance manager in New York, for four-and-a-half years and hope to marry when same sex marriages are legalised in New York.

His partner, Angel Ayala, on the right....

When contacted, Ou Yang said he was merely trying to set up a church “where everybody felt safe and welcomed”.

It is unfair to label it a gay church, he said, adding that the hate-mail had hurt him.

“This church is not limited to gays but serves all people. This will be an active church. We have so many community-centred plans, such as assisting the poor, charity work and upholding justice,” he said.

Ou Yang noted that the New York church served food to 5,000 homeless people and hoped to launch similar programmes here. He plans to return to Malaysia for good in 2010.

He credits his former wife for giving him strength to be true to himself, acknowledging that she had endured much anguish during their seven-year, childless union.

Asked if his church would solemnise same sex marriages, he replied: “Same sex marriages are illegal in Malaysia, so how can I perform them? However, I will bless the union.”

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia secretary-general Rev Wong Kin Kong, when contacted, acknowledged the proposed worship on Sunday had sowed anxiety among Christians.

“One of the reasons for the emotional reaction is because Christians do not want others to assume they condone such a thing,” said Wong.

He added that the churches could not accept Ou Yang’s version of the church because “it is clear that the Bible prohibits a sexual relationship between people of the same sex. If a person condones same sex marriages, it is definitely violating Christian principles.”

Wong said the churches had always welcomed all kinds of people, including homosexuals.

“It is the deviant sexual behaviour we do not condone. We cannot stop him wanting to set up such a kind of church, but the evangelical churches will inform followers of our stand and advise them not to follow this teaching,” he said.

 Anyone of you will attend his church if he's given the green light?!! 
( Tsk, tsk, tsk...No offence ya. Just adding some humour )


Skyhawk said...

I read a lot of his articles from Sin Chew...he is activist and I respect him. Bravo Wen Feng!

William said...

KH asked me to attend his talk while he was in Malaysia some time back. But I did not lo.

Anonymous said...

well, since i believe no religion legalize something like this, we should be keeping it

I mean, dont broadcast to the whole world saying you're gay.

Twilight said...

You provided more info on him than any media. I hardly knew what he was planning. You can be a great reporter!

White Soft Rope said...

After this piece was 'sensationalised' in Harian Metro and other 'print media', there has been around 10 articles and opinion pieces debating homosexuality and religion on I urge you (and your readers) to take a look at them, if not just to analyze the comments...

One letter that struck a nerve, on a positive note:

And of course the amazing piece by Pang Khee Teik
(which by the way is available for free on — if you are not a Malaysiakini subscriber).

I believe sexuality rights is part of the universal declaration of human rights, and we as gays should strive for acceptance by making ourselves heard — not provocatively... but as respectable human beings, friends, family, and employees/tax payers.

PS - there will be a LGBT Seksualiti Festival in an art gallery in KL in October, with movie screenings, discussions, forums and a concert! You should advertise this on your blog loh... The event is called Seksualiti Merdaka.

link within

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