Malaysian Newspaper Releases ‘How to Spot a Gay’ Guide

A Malaysian paper recently†published a series of supposedly “telltale” characteristics†for†identifying LGBT†people, angering†civil rights groups in the†region and raising fears of violence and targeted discrimination. The Guardian reports:

The article in Sinar Harian featured bullet points of supposedly distinctive qualities that revealed LGBT people. They stated that gay men were easy to identify because of their love of beards, going to the gym Ė not for exercise but to check out other men Ė and branded clothing. Their eyes light up when they see handsome men, the article said.

The stand-out attributes for lesbians were that they tend to hug each other, hold hands and belittle men, according to the newspaper.

The newspaper published the article alongside an interview with†preacher Hanafiah Malik, who described an urgent need to stop homosexuality.

Understandably, LGBT†advocates are†deeply concerned by this†rhetoric†and the potential for additional violence and discrimination.

LGBT rights in Malaysia

In its 2017 World Report,†Human Rights Watch†described the discrimination faced by LGBT people as “pervasive”.

Malaysia does not recognize LGBT rights and actively criminalizes same-gender relationships through its penal code. In addition to this, local Sharia laws also prohibit “men posing as women” and “women posing as men,” something which has been used to criminalize LGBT community members.

Last year, Malaysia’s health ministry launched a contest aimed at preventing young people from identifying as LGBT. The video competition supposedly aimed†to educate people about the consequences of “unhealthy” lifestyle practices, but the ministry denied that it was an attempt to undermine or attack the LGBT community. The ministry eventually decided to cancel the competition. Additionally, several high-profile†murders of trans people have occurred in Malaysia over the past few years. A Malaysian state has also raised fears that it will specifically target trans people for conversion therapy, while trans people are being held and charged at a high rate. This comes as the country has seen an alarming slide†toward Islamic religious conservatism, with bans on freedom of expression and speech commonplace and particularly high levels of sexism and abuse against women.

The danger of Malik’s†article

Outspoken internet figure Arwind Kumar recorded his reaction to the video†and makes a number of points about the criteria presented in the list. For example,†Kumar points out that†many religious figures have long beards.

He goes on to reject the article as a whole, stating:

If you really want to educate society then explain to them the traits of a paedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, those kinds of people that actually endanger the life of another. Do not tell them about gays. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life? With an article like this youíre only going to take away lives.

The video has now been viewed over 58,000 times.

Eric Paulsen of human rights legal group Lawyers for Liberty†maintains that that the article’s rhetoric “exposes these people to bullying, which could lead to violent hate crimes towards them.” Lawyers for Liberty has repeatedly spoken out to defend LGBT rights, writing in late January against the “misrepresentation in the news media” faced by trans people.

Other activists have pointed out†a case†from the past year†in which a young man died at the hands of his classmates because, in part, they suspected that he was gay. They†emphasize that this kind of rhetoric in newspapers, while easy to ridicule, feeds into vigilantism — and could severely endanger people.

So far, the newspaper has refused to comment on the article.

Photo Credit: Eliza Banfi/Flickr

75 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thank you.

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Chad Anderson
Chad A4 months ago

Thank you!

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Ellie M
Ellie M5 months ago

Noted

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming5 months ago

TY

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

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Jack Y
Jack Y5 months ago

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John J
John J5 months ago

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John J
John J5 months ago

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DAVID fleming
Dave fleming5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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