Gay pastor holds wedding banquet in Malaysia

A gay Malaysian pastor said Monday he had held a wedding banquet with his American partner despite earlier outrage by conservatives in the Muslim-majority country opposed to their union.

Ngeo Boon Lin, who has authored a number of books on gay and other issues under the name Ouyang Wen Feng, said he held the private, traditional Chinese wedding celebration at a restaurant in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

"I wanted to inspire others to speak the truth and to stand up for our rights," he told AFP.

Ngeo married his partner, African-American Broadway musical producer Phineas Newborn III, last year in New York, where they live. That came shortly after same-sex marriages were legalised there.

Homosexuality remains a largely taboo subject in Malaysia -- sodomy is punishable by 20 years in prison -- and Ngeo came under attack from Islamic and Christian figures alike when he first announced his wedding plans.

Ngeo said it was important for him to hold the banquet in Malaysia to show that gays should not be cowed.

"The answer is simple, namely we should not threaten others and I must show to others that people don't like to be threatened either," Ngeo, 42, said in emailed comments to AFP from the couple's honeymoon in Vietnam.

He said the banquet was attended by at least 250 friends from Malaysia and abroad and the couple faced no opposition in arranging it.

Ngeo plans to return to Malaysia later in the week before returning to New York later in the month.

Ngeo faced outrage and threats when he opened the first gay-friendly church just outside Kuala Lumpur in 2007.

He regularly returns to Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia to promote gay awareness.

Influential Malaysian religious figures and political conservatives remain vehemently opposed to the growing prominence of the country's gay community.

Authorities last year banned an annual gay-themed festival, featuring gay-oriented films, concerts and forums, while a prominent religious body in 2008 issued a fatwa against lesbian sex.

After Ngeo announced his wedding plans last year, Islamic Affairs Minister Jamil Khir Baharom denounced same-sex marriages as "extremism that... will create social problems".

Other officials and some Christian leaders also condemned Ngeo's nuptials.

Ngeo said gays should not let anything "paralyse us or scare us to silence".

"We should not be short-sighted and discouraged by unwanted backlash... We should not succumb to fear!" he said in his email.

  • Wednesday #sgroundup: More than 300 people missing after South Korean ferry sinks - coastguard 2 hours 27 minutes ago
    Wednesday #sgroundup: More than 300 people missing after South Korean ferry sinks - coastguard

    Here are the top trending stories of the day in case you missed them:

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America 14 hours ago
    2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

    For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

  • Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van 16 hours ago
    Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van

    “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.” No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying
    Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying

    The supermodel said that she will take her daughter in a vacation but will try to avoid boarding a plane

  • One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks
    One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

    South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast. "The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.