APCOM is backing community groups and organisations in Malaysia and elsewhere in their strong concern about recent guidelines released by the Malaysian Ministry of Education aimed at identifying young people who may be gay and lesbian.
Last week, an announcement from Kuala Lumpur described the Malaysian government holding seminars aiming to help teachers and parents spot “signs of homosexuality” in children, during which a checklist published by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations was handed out pointing to several so-called symptoms for identifying young people as being either gay or lesbian.
For gay individuals, the “symptoms” listed include:
- Developing a muscular body and a fondness for showing off the body by wearing revealing clothing, such as V-necks and sleeveless tops
- A preference for tight and bright coloured clothes
- An inclination to be attracted to men
- A tendency to carry big handbags, similar to the kinds used by women
For lesbian persons, the “symptoms” listed include:
- Showing an attraction to women
- Distancing themselves from women other than their girlfriends
- Having a preference for hanging out, sleeping and dining with women
- An absence of feelings for men
“It is important that the Malaysian government promotes messages based on acceptance, rather than one of discrimination, by attempting to identify, label and target gay and lesbian people of whatever age, let alone children and young people”, said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director of APCOM. “The Malaysian government, and its Ministry of Education above all, should focus on dispelling stereotypes and promoting the tolerance and acceptance of gay and lesbian people, especially young people who are especially vulnerable. Rather than these sorts of checklists, a better resource would be giving young people a list of organisations or support groups they could turn to, rather than promoting a ‘cure’ or re-orientation, efforts which only bring about great psychosocial harm.”
It is important that the Malaysian government promotes messages based on acceptance, rather than one of discrimination, by attempting to identify, label and target gay and lesbian people of whatever age, let alone children and young people
PT Foundation is one example of an organisation available to support young people in Malaysia through HIV testing and counselling and mental health counselling through one-on-one session or telephone. Their services can be accessed from Monday through Friday from 7:30pm – 9:30pm, at (03) 4044-5455 or (03) 4044-5466.
“Having someone to talk to who is non-judgmental is very important for our community, especially young people,” said PT Foundation’s Acting Executive Director, Raymond Tai. “We have a range of programmes that are based around acceptance and community empowerment. We also offer gender and sexuality counselling and referrals to professional psycho-social services and legal aid. To us, Malaysia is not just about embracing racial or religious diversity, but also of gender and sexual identity diversity.”
APCOM will continue to support these community networks and organisations in their efforts, and will continue to advocate for the social and human rights for the gay and transgender communities in Malaysia and across Asia and the Pacific region.