'Gay men love beards, lesbians tend to hug each other': Malaysian daily publishes checklist to 'identify' LGBT members

A Malaysian newspaper has reportedly published a list of characteristics to identify if people may be gay or lesbian. The article was published in Sinar Harian, a leading Malay language daily newspaper.

 Gay men love beards, lesbians tend to hug each other: Malaysian daily publishes checklist to identify LGBT members

Representational image. Reuters

According to a report in The Guardian, the article featured points of supposedly distinctive qualities to identify lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The article in Sinar Harian stated that gay men were easy to identify because of their love of beards, going to the gym – not for exercise but to check out other men – and branded clothing. Meanwhile, The Guardian report, quoting the piece, said that the stand-out attributes for lesbians were that they tend to hug each other, hold hands and belittle men.

Homosexuality is considered a taboo in Malaysia. Gay sex is criminalised and punishable by up to 20 years in prison, caning or a fine. In 2012, according to Reuters, authorities issued guidelines and held seminars aimed at helping teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children.

According to those guidelines, signs of homosexuality in boys include preferences for tight, V-neck shirts and large handbags, while girls with lesbian tendencies like to hang out and sleep in the company of women.

Activists said that intolerance of LGBT people has spiked in recent years in Malaysia, according to the Reuters report.

The Sinar Harian article drew a sharp response from activists in the country. According to DNA, Arwind Kumar, a social media star in the country, hit out at the piece saying, "There are many more important issues in this country which need to be addressed."

The DNA report also said that there have been a series of deaths of men and women suspected to be gay or transgender in Malaysia. A 27-year-old transgender woman, Sameera Krishnan, was brutally murdered in Kuantan city, Malaysia in February last year.

Boris Dittrich wrote for Human Rights Watch that Malaysia is one of very few countries in the world that prosecutes individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, simply for being who they are.

Malaysian health authorities have also held a contest on how to "prevent" homosexuality and transgenderism. The ministry described gender identity disorder, also known as gender dysphoria, and cited examples of people who are gay, lesbian, transsexual and tomboys.

Updated Date: Feb 12, 2018 19:18:53 IST