MALAYSIA: Outrage over seminars on 'how to spot gay children'

Summary: The seminars have been allegedly endorsed by the country's Education Ministry, while previously in March the federal government made reference to the “problem” of homosexuality.

[14 September 2012] - Seminars to help teachers and parents identify signs of homosexuality in children are being held in Malaysia.

Guidelines which advise gays can be identified by a propensity for wearing V-necks and carrying handbags have been published in a joint venture by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.

The “symptoms” of lesbianism include “being attracted to women” and “having no affection for men”.

In March the federal government made reference to the “problem” of homosexuality, The Guardian revealed.

Oral sex and gay sex are described as “against the order of nature” and under civil law, offenders can be punished by caning, fining or a 20 year jail sentence.

The guide is as confusing as it is contradictory, for as Free Malaysia Today points out: “In Malaysia life, any Malay society, the two sexes are deliberately kept apart. There is little chance for either sex to interact normally with each other.”

Online newspaper Free Malaysiakini published a selection of the guidelines handed out at the most recent seminar, which have been endorsed by the country's Education Ministry.

Tips for spotting gays include:

  • Have a muscular body and like to show their body by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes;
  • Prefer tight and light-coloured clothes;
  • Attracted to men; and
  • Like to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.

Symptoms of lesbianism are aparently:

  • Attracted to women;
  • Besides their female companions, they will distance themselves from other women;
  • Like to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and
  • Have no affection for men.

Sinar Harian quoted Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi who attended the seminar, as saying: “Youths are easily influenced by websites and blogs relating to LGBT groups. This can also spread among their friends. We are worried that this happens during schooling time.”

The guidelines state: “Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given,” with The Star reporting "such behaviour could be corrected if teachers and counsellors were to intervene."

The seminar on Wednesday was entitled “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)” and was attended by 1,500 people.

In an immediate response hashtagged #symptomsofbeingstupid, UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin issued a tweet which read: “I wear fitted, v-neck t-shirts. I’m OK.”

Andrew Gilliver, a spokesperson from The Lesbian & Gay Foundation called the guidelines “absolutely ridiculous, inaccurate, harmful and homophobic”.

He told The Huffington Post UK: “These guidelines create a fearful atmosphere for young people to grow up in, whether they are straight or identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. It is questionable why such guidelines would ever be needed in the first place, but to imagine that all people attracted to members of the same sex can be identified in this way shows a distinct lack of understanding of the diverse nature of human sexuality.

"It is concerning that the guidelines have been endorsed by the Education Ministry, adding Malaysia to the growing list of countries where LGBT people are unable to live their lives due to homophobia.

"We would very much like to see pressure brought on Malaysia by the UK Foreign Office, The British Council and The British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to overturn this offensive initiative and help educate local officials in Malaysia that this is not the way to support families and young people of any sexual orientation.”


In response to the media's coverage of the issue, the Malaysian Government released the following statement: “Contrary to media reports, the Government has not produced any guidelines regarding individuals’ sexuality, nor does it endorse them. They were produced by private organisations, who are not affiliated with the Government.”


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