A leading Malaysian newspaper has published list to ‘identify gay and lesbian people’, a move that has been criticised by activists.
The article in Sinar Harian featured a list of bullet points of supposed characteristics that are used to ‘spot members of the LGBT community’, reported the Guardian.
According to the highly-problematic article, gay men are easy to ‘identify’ because of their love of beards, gymming (where they don’t check out other men) and branded clothing. For lesbians, the list claims that the standout attributes are the tendency to hug, hold hands and belittle men. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and punishable with a 20-year prison sentence.
The list has sparked outrage from liberals and activists in the Muslim-majority country where there have been a series of deaths of men and women suspected to be gay or transgender.
An 18-year-old student was beaten and burned to death by classmates last year. A 27-year-old transgender woman, Sameera Krishnan, was attacked with a knife and shot thrice in a targeted attack a few months later.
Arwind Kumar, a social media star hit out at the article saying: “There are much more important issues in this country which need to be addressed. 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?”
He added in a video which has gone viral; ‘I know a lot of priests, I know a lot ustads [Islamic scholars], I know a lot of of really really religious people who love keeping beards. Are you trying to say they are gay? That’s how stupid this is.’
The derogatory attitude is a reflection of the rise of conservative Islam in the Muslim-majority country. The derogatory list was accompanied by an interview with Hanafiah Malik, a preacher who warned that ‘homosexuality was on the rise in Malaysia’.