Malaysia’s Education Ministry this week approved guidance for parents on how to spot the so-called warning signs of a child who might be gay.
The list of “symptoms” for a male child reportedly includes:
- Having a muscular body and liking to show their body by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes;
- Preferring tight and light-coloured clothes;
- Being attracted to men; and [my personal favorite]
- Liking to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.
Not stereotypes at all then.
The list for women is less stereotype specific, its broad strokes even contradictory. The “symptoms of lesbians” include:
- Being attracted to women;
- Besides their female companions, distancing themselves from other women;
- Liking to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and
- Having no affection for men.
The lists were reportedly launched during a “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)” seminar in Penang this week that was organized by Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and officiated by the Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi alongside the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Association.
Puad is quoted by Sinar Harian today as saying that the exposure of symptoms of gays and lesbians was the best approach to address the spread of such unhealthy phenomenon among students.
“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,” Puad told some 1,500 teachers and parents.
The guidelines were distributed to all those who attended the seminar.
The guidelines, while having drawn bemusement from many online commentators, have a more sinister tinge. For one thing, it would not be a stretch to imagine that once a student is labelled as having these “symptoms” they would instantly become targets for those opposed to LGBT identity. Based on Malaysian authorities’ recent track record, it may not even be improper to suggest this in fact could be the point.
Malaysia’s War on Gay Kids
Local authorities in Malaysia invited international condemnation in 2011 when they sent 66 boys between the ages of 13 and 17 who were identified by teachers as being effeminate to a so-called “self-development” course to make them learn more masculine behavior and “prevent” them from becoming gay or transgender. The move was condemned by the Malaysia’s women’s minister as being against child welfare laws, however, there have been rumors of other “de-gaying” camps.
Malaysia has also sent mixed signals on whether it deems issues like LGBT identity to be palatable for the general public, with threats of banning gay and effeminate people from television and local bans on so-called “sexuality rights” festivals. There were also reports that Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” LGBT-affirming anthem was censored upon its release in the country.
This seminar also comes at a time when high-profiled Muslim lawyers in the country have actively declared that they oppose putting LGBT rights in the draft Asean Human Rights Declaration document currently being considered by several nations, saying that the declassification of homosexuality by the American Psychological Association came about through intimidation and that it lacked proper scientific grounding–regular American anti-gay talking points that seem to have been well learned.