Malaysia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered the removal of two LGBT activist portraits from a public photo exhibition, arguing that they didn’t fit governmental policy.
The two pictured were transgender activist and U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award receiver Nisha Ayub and co-founder of LGBT rights festival Seksualiti Merdeka Pang Khee Teik, according to the BBC.
The photos were taken to celebrate Malaysia's 60th year of independence — both activists were carrying the country’s flag, but Teik had the LGBT flag in hand as well. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, and punishable under federal law.
“I have consistently repeated in parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia,” Rawa said to The Star.
The activists have taken to social media to protest the removal.
“They talk about rights as a citizen of Malaysia but they are denying people like me to express our love to our own country … I may be transgender, but I'm just a Malaysian [who] has family, friends, that always has hope for a more inclusive Malaysia,” Ayub said on Facebook.
Teik agreed, saying that they were only “loving our country in spite of the hate” on Facebook as well.