In the conservatively Muslim country of Malaysia homosexuality is illegal, the prime minister routinely makes homophobic statements and parents are told to take 'early intervention' if they think their children are gay.
The Malaysian airline, AirAsia, was launched in 1993 and now flies to over 400 cities in 25 countries. Last week the company released a statement saying that their profit for the last quarter of 2012 had increased by 168% on the previous year.
The Malaysian airline, AirAsia, based in Malaysia this year was one of the main sponsors of the Sydney Mardi Gras. When an airline from a traditionally homophobic country where the safety of its queer citizens are constantly under threat suddenly sponsors one of the largest events on the international LGBTI calender one's got to take notice. What does the Airline hope to gain by this move? Surely it can't mean to put its passengers in danger by transporting them to its home base and then charging them for the service? On a more positive note, does its sponsorship of the Sydney Mardi Gras mean that Malaysian big business will now stand in defiance of its home base government on LGBTI rights?
On the other side of the coin we have to ask, "Have the Sydney Mardi Gras organisers become so greedy that it doesn't care that the money sponsored for its event might have come from the ruined lives of Malaysia's oppressed LGBTI citizenry?" Or, do they, by accepting the AirAsia sponsorship, perhaps mean to bridge the gap between LGBTI equality and a traditionally homophobic country?
Meanwhile AirAsia already signed-up to sponsor next year's Mardi Gras and said in a statement:
"We thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with Mardi Gras this year, and can’t wait to grow our presence with the event next year and beyond. Next year we will also look to fly down lots of the LGBT community from all around Asia to enjoy the festivities in Sydney for Mardi Gras 2014 with us."
This year the Sydney Mardi Gras opened with a roar of motorbikes as Dykes on Bikes rode down the strip for the 25th time in Mardi Gras history. This year’s theme was ‘Generations of Love,’ acknowledging the legacy of the original marchers in 1978, some of whom took part this year and formally passing the flag to the next generation.