Malaysian Newspaper Purports to Know
And you thought you were invisible – at least to the straight community! You dress conservatively as befits your job, you don’t kiss or hold your boyfriend’s hand in public, you take care when entering a gay bar or club. As far as the general public is concerned, you think are an average Joe or Mohammed or Chang.
Do you need to think again, especially if you live in Malaysia? This, after all, is a country which still hangs on to the old British colonial law banning sodomy. This it takes to mean any form of gay activity. Successful prosecution carries a jail sentence of up to 20 years. In legal terms, gay here means gay men. The story goes that in 1885 when the British Prime Minister presented Queen Victoria with a bill for her signature prohibiting all forms of sexual intercourse outside marriage, the dear lady refused to do so. She could not, she explained, because it was anatomically impossible for females to engage in sexual intercourse. Accordingly, on the whim of the sovereign, parliament had to redraft the bill to prohibit what it termed “gross indecency between males.”
Being a predominantly Muslim country where Islamic laws are increasingly being promoted, falling foul of the law is a serious matter. All the more need, then, for the LGBT community to tread warily. Homophobia has never been far from the surface here, and recent events have been especially disturbing. Last year an 18-year old gay student was beaten and burned to death by his classmates who accused him of being gay. Only a few months later a transgender woman in her 20s was attacked with a knife and shot three times.
Pop concerts in Malaysia have routinely been cancelled when not given approval for one reason or another by the nation’s censors. Last year the Deputy Interior Minister attacked the Walt Disney Company because it refused to cut a gay scene from the recent movie Beauty and the Beast. An article on the Health Ministry website actively belittles lesbians. There have even been calls to boycott Starbucks because its Chairman promotes equal rights for the LGBT community.
To help citizens better identify gay men and women – and presumably the better to make fools of them and worse – a leading Malay language newspaper Sinar Harian recently published a list of bullet points. Gay men are easy to identify because –
1. they love wearing beards
2. they regularly attend a gym, not to exercise but to cruise other men
3. they love branded clothing
4. they wear tight shirts to show-off their six-pack abs
5. their eyes light up when the see handsome men.
The features for lesbians are that they hug each other in public, hold hands and belittle men.
The wearing of beards is especially laughable. The vast majority of Muslim men wear beards or grow some facial hair in Malaysia. Are all therefore gay? What a joke!
The article included an interview with a preacher, Hanafiah Malik, who warned that homosexuality is on the increase in Malaysia and there was an urgent need to stop the trend.
Sorry Mr. Malik. Whatever future you see for your country, gays are going to be a part of it. We are not going away!
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