Malaysia Gives Seminars on How To Spot Gay Students
Government officials in Malaysia are holding seminars to help the country's school teachers and parents to identify "signs of homosexuality in children, underscoring a rise in religious conservatism" in the Southeastern Asian nation, Reuters reported.
The organization Teachers Foundation of Malaysia put together 10 seminars across the country. According to the group's spokesman, about 1,500 people attended an event held last Wednesday.
"It is a multi-religious and multicultural" event," the official said. "After all, all religions are basically against that type of behavior."
The predominantly Muslim nation, which snakes along a peninsula surrounded by the South China Sea, has certainly not been among the most progressive nations when it comes to LGBT rights.
Currently, the country outlaws same-sex sexual activity (including oral sex). Fines range up to 20 years in prison and can include corporal punishment. The state does not recognize any form of gay relationships.
Malaysia is a former British colony that is now a member of the British Commonwealth. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William just completed a visit there.
Government officials consider homosexuality "a problem," Reuters reports. The seminars, they say, are a way to reduce their numbers.
Local media have been reporting about a flyer given out at one of the seminars. It claims, among other things, that a boy may be gay if he likes to wear tight, light-colored clothes. The flyer claims one can spot a lesbian by her disinterest in men and preference for spending time and sleeping with women.
Care2.com lists other "symptoms." Signs of male homosexuality include "having a muscular body and liking to show their body by wearing V-necks" and "liking to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out."
For females, the list is less specific but says, "being attracted to women" and "distancing themselves from other women" who are not their close friends.
Education Minister Paud Zarkashis, who led the latest seminar, explained to national news outlets how teaching how to identify gay and lesbian youth would help reduce the spread of homosexuality.
"Youths are easily influenced by websites and blogs relating to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] groups," he reportedly said. "This can also spread among their friends. We are worried that this happens during schooling time."
This isn't the first time Malaysian officials have discriminated against the LGBT community. Last year, the East Coast state of Terengganu setup camps for "effeminate" boys to teach them how to become men, Reuters notes.
In April, Malaysia's Information Department announced that it has banned state-owned television shows that feature gay characters, EDGEreported.
"Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now," said a directive that was issued by the Information Department on its official Facebook page.
Additionally, AP reported in March that Malaysia's High Court denied a bid by LGBT activists to challenge a police ban on a gay art event. The "Sexual Independence" festival was designed to promote dialogue about gay issues in the country.
Although the country is opposed to LGBT rights and marriage equality, the Associated Press reported in August that a gay couple that was married in New York last year was allowed to hold a wedding banquet in Malaysia, in what many believe to be the first such sanctioned event in the country, despite its predominantly Muslim population.