World

Malaysian newspaper draws flak for checklist on spotting gays

Sinar Harian says masculine gay men have facial hair and enjoy wearing tight shirts

KUALA LUMPUR An article by Malaysian newspaper on how to identify lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has sparked outrage on social media, as the country grapples with the growing influence of religious hardliners.

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, sodomy is a crime, and the government sanctions campaigns seeking to curb homosexuality and transgenderism.

The article published last week by top-selling Malay-language daily Sinar Harian included a bullet point list giving tips on how to identify gays and lesbians.

The list says masculine gay men have a penchant for "wearing tight shirts to show off their six pack" and keep facial hair, and a separate line says effeminate gay men go wide-eyed every time they see a handsome man.

Lesbians were described as man-haters who are extremely jealous and enjoy hugging and holding hands.

"I know a lot of priests, I know a lot of ustaz (religious teachers), I know a lot of really religious people who love keeping long beards... are you trying to say they are gay?" asked Facebook user Arwind Kumar, who posted a four-minute video criticising the article.

Malaysia has a record of taking homophobic positions. Last June, the Health Ministry launched a contest on how to "prevent"homosexuality and transgenderism, though it dropped it after pressure from LGBT groups.

A "gay moment" in the Walt Disney cartoon movie Beauty And The Beast almost led to a ban on it being screened in Malaysia last year.

In 2015, Malaysia's highest court upheld a ruling that banned cross-dressing.

Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, is on the cusp of revising its national criminal code to impose restrictions on same-sex relations and consensual sex between men and women outside marriage. - REUTERS

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