International Media Picks Up On 'LGBT Checklist' And Throws Malaysia Into The Spotlight

The Malay-language daily's article has received widespread condemnation.

Cover image via Emily Skema Su Mei/Facebook

ICYMI, on 9 February, Sinar Harian published an article about the LGBTQ community along with a checklist on how to spot them in our midst

In the article that drew sharp criticism and ridicule, Sinar Harian said that gay men "frequent gyms not to workout but to admire other men" and lesbians "hate men and enjoy belittling them"

Here's a translated version of the full checklist:

Image via Twitter

Reacting to the Sinar Harian article, activist Arwind Kumar warned that it might spark a witch hunt that could "take away lives"

In a video uploaded on his YouTube channel, Arwind said, "There are much more important issues in this country which need to be addressed.

"If you really want to educate society, then explain to them the traits of a paedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, people who actually endanger the lives of others. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life?"

He also pointed out how the blanket stereotypes make absolutely zero sense.

"I know a lot of priests, I know a lot of Ustaz, I know a lot of really religious people who love keeping long beards... are you trying to say they're gay?"

While the article first sparked criticism on social media, it was widely mocked after it was picked up by a slew of foreign publications

Among the international media that covered it, were The Washington Post, NBC News, BBC, The Guardian, HuffPost, Mashable, The Independent and several others.

Highlighting how a person can be sent to jail for up to 20 years for being gay in Malaysia, The Washington Post wrote:

"The country's outsize heterosexual antipathy toward gay people has sparked reactions that run the gamut from hilarious to horrifying.

"Movie chains in the country, for example, halted the release of "Beauty and the Beast" because of a "gay moment" in the film.

"In June, the Malaysian Health Ministry sponsored a contest that offered up to $1,000 to youths who came up with videos about "preventing” homosexuality."

"Also last year, an 18-year-old student was beaten and burned to death by classmates who labelled him a "pondan," or gay man."

BBC, on the other hand, wrote how it "could put lives at risk" while noting the recent rise in influence of religious hardliners in Malaysia, which, it said, often pits "religious fundamentalists against those campaigning for greater rights for the LGBT community"

It quoted Arwind saying that while activists like him have no trouble speaking out, many others are "filled with so much of fear in them".

"Transgenders have been murdered in this country," he explains. "Soft or feminine guys have been bullied and harassed in such ugly ways. There's always this worry. That if I 'come out', what would happen to me?"

The Guardian stated that the local media’s derogatory attitude towards the members of LGBTQ is symptomatic of the "increasing influence of conservative Islam in mainstream politics and culture in Malaysia"

Malaysian Muslims hold placards protesting against gay rights in Kuala Lumpur.

Image via Reuters

NBC News highlighted how the government sanctions campaigns to curb sexual minorities. "The LGBTQ community is routinely persecuted in Muslim-majority Malaysia."

Mashable simply called the checklist "ridiculous"

While writing "that LGBTQ discrimination is rife in Malaysia," Mashable added that it "doesn't get more ridiculous than an article telling readers how to spot them."

What do you think about Sinar Harian's gay checklist?

In other news, following the fire that broke out at its building in PJ yesterday, EPF has assured its members' savings and data are safe:

Other recent news stories on SAYS:

You may be interested in: