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Gay couple who married in US cheered by 200 banquet guests in Malaysia

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A pastor who married gay boyfriend music producer in New York last year has fulfilled the promise to hold a wedding reception in his native Malaysia in what they believe is the first event of its kind in the Muslim-majority country.

Born in Malaysia NGEO Boon Lin and African-American husband Phineas Newborn III, took the silence closed the reception Saturday - with kisses and public karaoke performances of ballads - with about 200 guests, including a handful of journalists in Chinese that asked not to report on the case until later.
In this photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 and released by Ngeo Boon Lin, Malaysian-born Ngeo Boon Lin, right, and his American partner Phineas Newborn III kiss during their wedding banquet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Gay pastor Ngeo who married his musical producer boyfriend Newborn III in New York last year has fulfilled a vow to hold a wedding banquet in his native Malaysia. The couple believes that Saturday’s reception was the first such event in the Muslim-majority country. (AP Photo/Ngeo Boon Lin) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The couple risked the wrath of a government that has banned a gay arts festival, a politician persecuted for sodomy and declared that homosexuality has no place in Malaysian society.

"We are grateful to Malaysia to make history here," said the newborn.

NGEO, pastor of Chinese origin who has lived mainly in the United States since 1998, attracted criticism from Malaysian officials and religious groups when she married newborn, a Broadway musical producer, last August.

Although NGEO is identified as a Christian minister for Islamic affairs Malaysian Cabinet expressed concern at the time of their marriage could promote "extremism" among the 28 million people in Malaysia, including ethnic Malay Muslims, who comprise nearly two thirds of the population. A newspaper owned by the ruling party urged the authorities to avoid NGEO the performance of any wedding celebration in Malaysia.

But this summer, the couple, both 40, believe that enough time had passed so they can travel to Malaysia for a few days without fanfare and invite NGEO mother, friends, former colleagues and classmates for a party Traditional wedding china.

"It is my right to celebrate my joy with people I care about," he told The Associated Press NGEO. "The government can make noise, religious conservatives can make noise, but they are not welcome here."

The Malaysian government had no immediate reaction to news of Saturday's event.

Banquet guests to their seats introduced in a Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur had found small, heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in Chinese indicates that resulted in "God loves gays."

Two guests sang each other with Lionel Richie and Diana Ross duet "Endless Love", while a transgender artist tearfully praised NGEO and Newborn to remind everyone that "sexual orientation only: love."

One guest, Eric Goh, Malaysian Gay said "the need to leave in larger numbers and we need straight people to support us."

NGEO made his way back to Malaysia, a month after Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a speech in which homosexual behavior, lesbian and transsexual was part of a "deviant culture" should "has no place in this country. "

Najib made a statement reiterating the government's stance and trigger new concerns. But for gay Malaysians, especially Muslims, however, meant that the door to the public for self-expression remained slammed shut.

Most Malaysians live gay live free from harassment from the authorities, and a law establishing 20 years in prison for sodomy, even consensual, is rarely applied. The most prominent person charged under the law was Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader acquitted this year of sodomizing a former male assistant in what he said was a politically motivated case.

"I understand the sensitivities. I'm not asking for gay marriage being allowed in Malaysia now," said NGEO, adding that his advice to gay Malaysian was "go ahead and be creative."
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