A Malaysian newspaper sparked outrage and concern following publishing a homophobic and un-credible checklist to help its readers “identify” gay people.
The article, which was published by Sinar Harian, is not only based on stereotypical traits but also fuels dangerous homophobia in a country where homosexuality is outlawed.
According to the newspaper, gay men can be identified by the following characteristics: wearing beards, going to the gym to eye out other men, wearing tight and branded clothing, and having their eyes light up when they see a handsome man.
Additionally, when it comes to lesbians, the newspaper claims that they can be identified, when a woman hugs and/or holds hands with other women too long, and when a woman hates and belittles men.
The list, and of course the notion of needing to ‘identify’ lesbian and gay people, has been met with controversy from the LGBTQ community within Malaysia, and human rights activists across the globe.
Social media star Arwind Kumar criticised the newspaper and warned that its irresponsible journalism could lead to witch hunts. “With an article like this you are only going to take away lives,” he said in a video.
“If you really want to educate society then explain to them the traits of a pedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, those kinds of people who actually endanger the lives of others. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life?” Kumar asked.
Homosexuality is still considered a social taboo in Malaysia and is punishable by penalties of up to 20 years in jail.
A transgender woman can also be persecuted and charged with “public indecency” and those who are Muslim may also fall foul of Islamic Sharia laws banning cross-dressing.