The offending article published last week by top-selling Malay-language daily, Sinar Harian, included a bullet point list giving tips on how to identify gays or lesbians.
The list describes masculine gay men as having a penchant for “wearing tight shirts to show off their six pack” and keeping facial hair, and a separate line says effeminate gay men go wide-eyed every time they see a handsome man.
Lesbians were described as man-haters who are extremely jealous and enjoy hugging and holding hands.
“I know a lot of priests, I know a lot of ustaz (religious teachers), I know a lot of really religious people who love keeping long beards… are you trying to say they’re gay?” asked Arwind Kumar, who posted a four-minute video on Facebook criticising the story.
Malaysia has a record of taking homophobic positions. In June, the health ministry launched a contest on how to “prevent” homosexuality and transgenderism, though it dropped it after pressure from LGBT groups.
A ‘gay moment’ in the Walt Disney cartoon movie Beauty and the Beast almost led to a ban on it being screened in Malaysia last year.
In 2015, Malaysia’s highest court upheld a ruling that banned cross-dressing.
Neighbouring Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, is on the cusp of revising its national criminal code to impose restrictions on same-sex relations and consensual sex between men and women outside marriage.
-Joseph Sipalan, Reuters