A Malaysian MP has spoken out against the Education Ministry for spreading ‘hate' and fanning ‘the flames of intolerance and homophobia’.
Gay Star News reported yesterday on government-endorsed guidelines that warn Malaysian parents to look out for stereotyped ‘symptoms’ that their children are gay. These include, for gay men, preferences for ‘tight and light coloured clothes’ and ‘big handbags’.
Charles Santiago, MP for Klang in eastern peninsula Malaysi, said in a letter to Free Malaysia Today:
‘Chances are that now, instead of developing team building and learning to respect one another for who they are, our students will be busy looking out for boys with tight T-shirts and big handbags… In effect, [deputy education minister] Puad has spread hate among these kids. He has also fanned the flames of intolerance and homophobia.’
Santiago writes that Malaysian children must ‘be taught not to condemn or bully anyone based on how they identify themselves’ and that ‘instilling such belief systems among students’ will not help the country become a developed nation.
‘People from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community face the worse forms of discrimination,’ Santiago continues. ‘If at all, the government and Education Ministry must teach students to stop the existing name-calling and instead look at ways to ensure the LGBT community has equal access to education.’
Meanwhile Malaysian feminist and sexuality rights activist and organizer of the Ai Yoh… Wat Lah?! awards Smita Elena Sharma told Gay Star News:
‘One wonders on what basis exactly the Education Ministry saw fit to endorse these guidelines, which appear to be pulled out of thin air and fail to draw upon any research and scholarship on gender expression and sexual orientation.
‘These moves are not just homophobic; they're asinine. The Education Ministry should put an immediate stop to them and focus on the tough and necessary work of educating our young to be engaged and discerning citizens, accepting of difference and critical of shoddy reasoning.’
Santiago’s Democratic Action Party is part of the opposition coalition in Malaysia. The party received 13.8% of the vote in the last general election in 2008. The Malaysian prime minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak needs to call another election before March 2013.