PETALING JAYA: A government-endorsed parenting guide that describes symptoms of homosexuality has kicked up a storm on the Internet, with human rights and sexuality activists expressing shock and disgust.

Sin Chew Daily today reported that the Education Ministry had endorsed the guide as helpful to parents and teachers.

It was launched during a seminar in Penang yesterday. The event, billed as “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)”, was officiated by Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

The guide listed four symptoms each for gays and lesbians:

For gays:

  • Muscular body and a fondness for showing off the body by wearing clothing, such as by wearing 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 lesbians:

  • Showing attraction to women
  • Distancing themselves from women other than their girlfriends
  • A preference for hanging out, sleeping and dining with women
  • Absence of feelings for men

Teaching hate

When asked to comment, activist and Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik initially said: “I don’t even know how to respond.”

However, he proceeded to flay the Education Ministry for being “only interested in teaching hate, promoting inequality and playing politics”.

“The Ministry of Education is now officially a bully,” he said. “I never presumed to be in the position to teach the meaning of education to the people running the Ministry of Education. But it has come to that.”

He said education should be used to provide equal opportunity and the realisation of the human potential to collaborate with one another in building a better world.

Pang, who is openly gay, said that studies around the world had proven that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would harm individuals as well as society.

“Many of these studies originate in countries which have made such mistakes in their past and who are desperately now trying to undo the wounds that discriminatory policies had left on the psyche of their people,” he said.

He said the ministry should instead pay heed to such LGBT issues as suicide, forced marriages, depression and bullying.

“It must stop this inhuman campaign against vulnerable children,” he said. “It should teach all children to be confident and to respect each other no matter who they are.”

Pang offered to provide guidance to “poorly educated” education officials through his organisation.

“It’s not too late. There are a few good books and studies out there they could read instead of relying on pseudo-experts and quacks.”

Absurd campaign

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri of Lawyers for Liberty said the Education Ministry’s campaign was absurd.

“I don’t see why they are doing this,” she said. “This group is already being persecuted and intimidated. And now they are trying to expose people and continue to attack them instead of trying to understand the whole problem. They are forgetting human rights.

“These people blur the lines between personal beliefs and a criminal act,” she said.

The Sin Chew report quoted the guide as saying: “Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given.”

The guide was published by Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.

Yesterday’s seminar was reportedly the 10th such event. Earlier seminars were held in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Perak.

The guide was distributed to all who attended the seminar.

Bernama quoted Mohd Puad as saying parents and teachers should know these symptoms so that they could address social problems amongst teenagers, especially those still in school.

“It is now time that this LGBT issue is discussed openly and not treated as taboo,” he was quoted as saying.

Teoh El Sen, September 13, 2012, Free Malaysia Today