Malaysian authorities raid LGBT Halloween party

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Malaysia’s religious officers broke up a large Halloween party attended by the LGBT community and arrested 20 people for cross-dressing and allegedly encouraging vice, activists said Sunday.

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Activist Numan Afifi who was among those arrested at the event in Kuala Lumpur late Saturday described the raid as “traumatizing and harrowing.”

“About 40 religious officers backed by the police came into the venue with some 1,000 participants, and they stopped the music and dance,” he told AFP.

Numan said authorities divided party-goers into two groups -- Muslims and followers of other faiths.

Subsequently, 20 Muslims were taken to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department where “our identity details were recorded.”

“Some were alleged to have committed offenses under cross-dressing while others, including me, for encouraging vice,” Numan said.

All 20 were released a few hours later but are required to return next week for questioning.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with sharia courts handling some cases for Muslim citizens, who make up around 60 percent of the population.

Homosexuality is forbidden and laws criminalizing sodomy can result in imprisonment, corporal punishment and fines -- although enforcement of the law is rare.

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