Asia-Pacific

Malaysian newspaper publishes 'how to spot an LGBT' checklist

The article has sparked outrage on social media. Source: Getty

A Malaysian newspaper says gay men wear tight shirts to show off and lesbians are jealous man-haters.

A leading Malaysian newspaper has published a list informing readers how to spot people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The list, run last week by the Malay-language Sinar Harian, was titled "what are the characteristics of (an) LGBT?"

Several bullet points described what fashion items and mannerisms LGBT people supposedly possess.

It said masculine gay men like to "wear tight shirts to show off their six pack" and keep facial hair, while 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.

The LGBT community is routinely persecuted in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where the penal code criminalises same-sex activity between men with punishments of up to 20 years in prison and whipping.

A Human Rights Watch report in 2017 wrote that discrimination against LGBT people was "pervasive" in Malaysia.

"Numerous Sharia-based laws and regulations prohibiting a "man posing as a woman," sexual relations between women, and sexual relations between men effectively criminalize LGBT people," the report said.

But the list has since drawn heavy criticism on social media around Malaysia and internationally.

"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.

The Malaysian government has a record of taking homophobic positions. In June, the health ministry launched a contest on how to "prevent" homosexuality and transgenderism.

A "gay moment" in the Walt Disney cartoon movie Beauty and the Beast almost led to a ban on it being screened last year.

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.

Additional reporting: AAP, AFP