The Malaysian government is supporting seminars to help teachers and parents identify signs of homosexuality in children – and take “preventative measures” early.
Among the so-called tell-tale signs the seminars warn about with boys are light-coloured, tight-fitting clothes, V-neck or sleeveless tops, and the carrying of handbags. Muscular bodies is particular should arouse suspicion, parents are warned.
Girls are also targeted – those who eat and sleep together and are always seen in the same pairings.
It’s easy to mock the stereotypical and downright nonsensical homophobia, but in a country where being gay is still illegal, lives will be ruined at a frighteningly young age when the authorities identify and stamp out homosexuality.
And the seminars have high-level supporters. Deputy Education Minister Mohamad Puad Zarkashi says of the government: “Definitely we support the seminars – because it’s good for parents to be exposed to LGBT symptoms.
“At least preventive action can be taken.”
Naturally, there’s been much international backlash to Malaysia’s new efforts to combat LGBT rights. And the seminars certainly don’t have cross-party support, Malaysian MP and educator Tony Pua tells ABC Radio Australia.
The “gay spotting” measures are wrong on two counts, he says: “One, it’s clearly homophobic and it does not respect the rights of the individual in any way.
“Number two, it is wrong because even if they want to cure the ‘ill’, the approach being taken is completely ridiculous.”