Malaysian Newspaper Issues “Tips” On Spotting Homosexuals

Telltale signs include beards, gym memberships, and logos on clothing.

A major paper in Malaysia is being ridiculed for publishing a checklist on spotting gays and lesbians. According to an article in Sinar Harian, gay men can be identified by their love of beards, going to the gym (to ogle other men), and sporting brand names on their clothes. In addition, their eyes light up when they see handsome men.

Lesbian watchers, it suggests, should keep their eye out for women who hug each other, hold hands, or belittle men.

Homosexuality is still criminalized in Malaysia, with punishments as high as 20 years in prison. A number of recent homicides have been attributed to anti-LGBT hatred: in 2017, an 18-year-old student was beaten and burned to death by classmates who accused him of being pondan, or gay. Just months later, a trans woman was stabbed and shot three times in her floral shop.

Last year the Malaysian health ministry launched a contest for videos suggesting how to prevent young people from becoming gay or transgender.

“There are much more important issues in this country which need to be addressed,” activist Arwind Kumar told The Guardian. “If you really want to educate society then explain to them the traits of a pedophile, a molester, a murderer, a kidnapper, people who actually endanger the lives of others. How the hell does a gay person endanger your life?”

Kumar also belittled the article’s “tips”: “I know a lot of really religious people who love keeping beards. Are you trying to say they’re all gay?”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.