A Malaysian newspaper has ‘helpfully’ put together a list of pointers for identifying potential gay and lesbian people.
The article in Sinar Harian featured bullet points of signs people are LGBT. Let’s take a look:
Gay men are apparently easy to identify because of their love of beards, wearing tight clothes to show off their six packs, going to the gym – not for exercise but to check out other men – and branded clothing. And, like some kind of weird 1980s robo-doll, apparently, their eyes light up when they see handsome men.
Arwind Kumar, an activist and one of Malaysia’s biggest social media stars, lashed out at the Sinar Harian article, saying it could “take away lives” and demanded “Are you dumb?” He added that if wearing branded clothes made you gay then most of the TV stars in Malaysia are gay.
The stand-out attributes for lesbians were that they tend to hug each other, hold hands and belittle men.
Again Arwind Kumar told the author “I don’t know who you are, but you are a stupid person. Why not educate them on a depressed individual to save lives?”
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable under a sodomy law that carries a 20-year prison sentence.
Campaigners have called for an end to this kind of homophobia in Malaysian media after a series of recent deaths of men and women suspected of being gay or transgender.
18-year old student, T Nhaveen, was beaten and burned to death last year by classmates who said he was pondan, a colloquial term for a gay man.
A 27-year-old transgender woman, Sameera Krishnan, was attacked with a knife and then shot three times in a targeted attack in her florist shop a few months later.
Arwind Kumar added: “There are much more important issues in this country which need to be addressed,” he said. “If you really want to educate society then explain to them the traits of a paedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, people who actually endanger the lives of others. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life?”
The derogatory attitude towards LGBT people in the media is also symptomatic of the increasing influence of conservative Islam in mainstream politics and culture in Malaysia.
The Sinar Harian article was accompanied by an interview with Hanafiah Malik, a preacher who warned homosexuality was on the increase in Malaysia and said there was an urgent need to stop the trend.
Another article on the health ministry’s website, entitled “Why would a person be lesbian?”, states that potential causes of women being gay were their decisions to prioritise their careers and believing other women were the only ones who would understand.