A city where state of the art glass skyscrapers line leafy and pleasant downtown streets, Kuala Lumpur is a unique and exciting location. A playground for Asia’s super-rich, the city has rapidly become a global destination and is often regarded as one of the most international cities on the planet, with a multicultural population and excellent world transport links.
The city has a rich and fascinating history, from the Malay and Chinese settlers who forged the original area from the thick jungle to the British colonialists who invaded and transformed society, erecting countless grand victorian buildings. After Malaysia gained independence in 1957, Kuala Lumpur began to flourish and became the popular travel destination that it is today.
Despite a modern infrastructure and futuristic architecture, Malaysia’s attitudes around homosexuality are archaic. LGBT+ individuals can receive sentences of up to 20 years for same-sex sexual acts and caning is a common punishment for those who flaunt their identities. Despite this, there is a discreet yet passionate LGBT+ community in the city who welcome gay travelers with open arms.
The horrific human rights situation facing LGBT+ people in Kuala Lumpur means that most gay venues are more discreet than in other cities and the fact that homosexuality remains illegal in Malaysia means that many gay events will change venues frequently and only disclose the location close to the time. However, there are still a number of bars and clubs that cater to a gay clientele.
BlueBoy Discoteque is a mainstay of Kuala Lumpur’s gay scene, having served the gay community here for many years. After 1 AM the club bursts to life as the primary dance club for the city’s LGBT+ population and a diverse and eclectic crowd can often be seen dancing away to Malaysian and western pop classics. Well known for its amazing live events, BlueBoy Discoteque often plays host to some of the best drag queens in the city. This vibrant and beloved club is the perfect place to sample the creme de la creme of Kuala Lumpur’s gay nightlife venues.
If you’re after somewhere to warm up before heading on to BlueBoy Discotque, look no further than Gaythering Pub. This small and intimate local gay bar is a firm favorite amongst the LGBT+ community in the city and with its cheap drinks and friendly atmosphere it’s the ideal spot to get a few drinks in the early evening. The karaoke here is great and the non-judgmental atmosphere makes it one of the best places to belt out your favorite number.
Outside of the city center and boasting a rebellious attitude to match, Utopia is the best place to experience true local gay culture. The club is frequented by mainly local gay guys but the staff and patrons will be friendly and warm regardless of your background. The spacious dancefloor is always a lively hub of activity and there are nightly drag shows, strippers, and themed events. If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in Kuala Lumpur’s gay scene, Utopia is the place to do it.
Shopping in Kuala Lumpur is big business, and gay travelers who want to make the most of the endless high-end stores and vast malls should consider staying at the ANSA Kaula Lumpur. The newly renovated guest rooms at the ANSA are each finished with a sleek and modern design, prioriising space, and comfortability. The in-room baths are a romantic and opulent touch, allowing guests to enjoy the stunning city views whilst having a relaxing soak. The hotel is not only close to the best shops in the city, but also the majority of gay bars and clubs.
The rooftop pool at the Invito Hotel Suites is by far the highlight of this modern hotel. Offering stunning skyline views and space of quiet above the bustling streets of central Kuala Lumpur, the large infinity pool is the perfect palace to relax after a day of exploring. The hotel consists of apartment-style suites that include living and sleeping areas as well as a well-furnished kitchen. The suites are a great option for gay travelers who value privacy and self-sufficiency when traveling. In addition to multiple nearby venues, the Invito also boasts an on-site restaurant and bar.
Kuala Lumpur is the sixth-most visited city on the planet, therefore it’s not surprising that there are multiple luxury hotels that offer much better value than in many other locations. One such venue is the GTower Hotel, an award-winning establishment in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Thanks to its small ecological footprint and commitment to the environment, GTower was the first hotel in Malaysia to be awarded a green rating and this socially conscious hotel is about as gay-friendly as it gets. The stylish and spacious guest rooms offer a touch of luxury to your stay and will guarantee you a restful experience.
Gay saunas in Kuala Lumpur
The saunas in Kuala Lumpur tend to be well-maintained and comfortable, with a few establishments dotted around the city. Occupying a large premises, the spacious interior and 24/7 access make Mandi Manda one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular gay saunas. The venue attracts large and diverse crowds who flock through its doors to enjoy the three-floors of hedonistic fun. The venue boasts a range of facilities including a gym, steam room, rain baths, and even its own cafe. Much like Mandi Manda, many gay saunas in the city will not advertise their LGBT+ focus, however, once inside this will become abundantly clear.
Gay rights in Kuala Lumpur
Like many theocracies, the governance of Malaysia is largely influenced by religious beliefs, values, and scriptural ideologies. The predominant faith in Malaysia is Islam and the teachings of the Quran heavily dictate the laws that are proposed and enacted in the country. For this reason, LGBT+ people in Kuala Lumpur face discrimination, danger, prejudice, and violence at disproportionate rates compared to the cisgender and heterosexual population. Punishable by up to 20 years in prison, same-sex sexual activity is strictly banned in Malaysia and vigilante executions, and torture of LGBT+ people is tolerated and sometimes encouraged by the police.
There have been no indications of the Malaysian government legalizing same-sex marriage and equally, there are no laws that protect LGBT+ people from discrimination and refusal of service. Openly gay LGBT+ individuals are banned from serving in the military. Unlike many countries, public opinion regarding LGBT+ issues remains negative and shows little signs of improving- in 2011 a poll found that 8% of the Malaysian population thought that homosexuality should be accepted.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Kuala Lumpur