Malaysia’s Education Ministry has denied endorsing guidelines on how to spot gay and lesbian schoolchildren.
After the story received international criticism, the governmental body released a statement saying the ministry never endorsed such guidelines to be published and circulated in schools.
‘It is important to stress that it was issued by concerned quarters,’ it said.
However the ministry said it was looking into the issue described as ‘social ills’, and says it is constantly providing guidelines to prevent students from ‘engaging’ in homosexuality.
It states: ‘The ministry views cases of social ills in the community very seriously and will always give guidance directly and indirectly to all schoolchildren to ensure they stay away from unhealthy activities.’
It was revealed on 13 September that the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia had been holding seminars in which they were handing out pamphlets on ‘spotting’ gay people.
Local media reported that signs of homosexuality in boys may include preferences for tight, light-colored clothes and large handbags.
For girls, if they have no affection for men and enjoy the company of women, then they are most likely a lesbian.
In an Amnesty International blog, a staff writer said: ‘It might sound like something from Victorian England, but this is modern day Malaysia.’
They added the pamphlets ‘reflects a worrying trend towards increased homophobia in the country.’
Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia, and has been described as against ‘the order of nature’.
Official intolerance of gay people has been on the rise. Last year, the east coast state of Terengganu
Malaysian human rights activist Clarence Sim said the seminar and demonization of LGBT people ‘has everything to do with politics.
In an interview with Gay Star News, he said: ‘The government is trying to portray LGBTs as a threat to Malaysian society and culture/tradition.
‘Since the ban of Seksualiti Merdeka, an annual LGBT awareness event, the Malaysian government has made anti-LGBT its agenda. As we are coming up to a general election soon, it is believed they are trying to win the majority votes by condemning LGBTs.’