Halloween event at RexKL get raided by PDRM & JAWI, drag performers & other queer individuals detained

Image credit: @NumanAfifi , @tnahssin

Halloween merrymakers who were intent on making the weekend one to remember had their plans brought to a grinding halt, when a private party that was held in the popular RexKL arts venue located in Chinatown were raided by the authorities on Saturday evening (October 29th, 2022).

The event, which was headlined by a number of drag queen performers, saw them as well as handful of other queer individuals being detained by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI), assisted by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

Police & JAWI conduct raid on Halloween party in RexKL

In speaking to one of the attendees that had been present during the evening’s events, who has requested to remain anonymous, WauPost understands that the raid had taken place sometime around 9.45pm, when police officers began moving into the hall where the event was organised.

“Not long after, people started panicking. Some queens were still performing, but as soon as they saw police they rushed back into the dressing rooms.”

Local authorities proceeded to seal off exits, before demanding those present to provide proof of identification, such as I.Cs or travel documents, and warned that those who failed to do so would be liable of being detained. Attendees were told to separate into two lines to expedite the purpose; one for the girls, and one for the boys.

“They began checking our I.C. Mine was not checked but I did get a lot of staring from the officers and I tried to avoid any eye contact. From what I’ve observed, they mostly targeted what they described as ‘crossdressers’.”

During the identification process, many were asked to confirm their gender, with some being instructed to stand on stage. Similarly, drag queens were also singled out, with the authorities documenting the ordeal with photos and videos. They were then escorted out to perform urine tests. Transgender and non-binary individuals at the party were also escorted out.

“I actually lost track of time. I was just sitting in a corner still in shock.” he said.

Attendees were only allowed to leave at around midnight, when the operation concluded.

20 individuals detained

According to local activist Numan Afifi, 20 individuals from the party were transported in a Black Maria truck by JAWI to assist in investigations. It is understood that the event was organised legally, and held all the required permits.

All individuals were eventually released from IPD Dang Wangi, with the magistrate rejecting police request to remand the detainees for four days. According to local newspaper The Star, Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Noor Dellhan Yahaya said 53 men and 9 women were checked at the venue, with two men testing positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Those detained were investigated under Section 28 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 by JAWI.

The detainment has since been met with widespread condemnation over social media, with outgoing Klang MP Charles Santiago describing it as an act of harassment against the LGBT community, which has traditionally been sidelined and marginalised.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) central committee member Chong Yee Shan has also voiced out against the raid, and was present to assist those who were detained that evening.

Similarly, local comedian Dr Jason Leong remarked that the raid was reminiscent of what had taken place at the now defunct Crackhouse Comedy Club, and expressed his solidarity with those that were detained during the raid.

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