Since March 2020, Malaysia has been placed under several movement control orders (MCOs) that restrict movement and business operations in order to curb COVID-19 infections. However, the MCOs have also resulted in rising unemployment, business closures and increased food insecurity. Cash aid from the government has been disbursed in several stages, with the next one only due to arrive in August 2021. As the country faces increasing economic difficulties in the wake of the pandemic, mutual aid funds have sprung up around Malaysia to provide food and cash aid to affected communities.

However, LGBTQIA+ people face an extra hurdle when it comes to accessing aid. Fears of discrimination, being dead-named and an increasingly hostile environment toward queer people prevents them from accessing aid from public COVID-19 funds.  

In this episode, Deborah Augustin speaks to Nisha Ayub from SEED Foundation and Connie Connor, an organiser with the Queer Solidarity Fund, about the need for LGBTQIA+ specific mutual aid funds that are more gender-inclusive, and how the queer community in Malaysia has organised themselves against the backdrop of an increasingly hostile environment.

For the sake of full transparency, we’d like to disclose that the presenter has previously donated to both SEED Foundation and the Queer Solidarity Fund. 

Deborah Augustin

Deborah Germaine Augustin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she worked as a Parliamentary Assistant for the MP of Kelana Jaya. She is currently working on a cross-genre chapbook about immigration in the United States. She is New Naratif's Member Engagement Coordinator. Reach her at deborah.augustin@newnaratif.com.