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 – not for exercise but to check out other men – 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 you’re 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


Paulo R
Paulo R6 days ago

that's pitiful, ty

Graham P
Graham P9 days ago

Religion raising yet again it's Ugly side!

Elaine W
Elaine W10 days ago

Noted with concern :(

DAVID fleming11 days ago

Unbelievable laws

Maureen G
Maureen G12 days ago

Time to live and let live.

Past Member
Past Member 17 days ago

i can't imagine

John W
John W17 days ago


Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle21 days ago

Such a shame to see government sponsored ignorance.

Angela J
Angela J25 days ago


Leo C
Leo Custer25 days ago

Thank you for posting!