Malaysia opens gay ‘prevention’ competition 

Malaysia is offering cash prizes of up to 4,000 ringgit (US$930) for the best videos explaining how to “prevent” homosexuality in a health ministry competition.

Activists said the move would lead to further victimisation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as conservative Muslim attitudes increasingly push aside Malaysia’s reputation for moderation and tolerance.

The competition, which closes at the end of August, has three main categories: gender confusion, sex and sex and the internet.

The guidelines mention that gay, lesbian and transgender people and tomboys suffer from “gender confusion”.

The ministry’s websites invites contestants to submit videos addressing categories including “gayness” or “gender confusion” and offer suggestions as to how these could be “prevented or controlled”.

Videos should focus on “prevention, control and how to get help” and “issues and consequences” under the theme of “value yourself, healthy lifestyle practice”.

“Each work will be judged on originality, content, concept and creativity and quality production by a panel of judges appointed by the organisers,” said the health ministry’s website.

Campaigner Pang Khee Teik said: “The very fact that they lump LGBT people under a category called ‘gender confusion’ shows that the authorities are very much confused themselves. It is mind-blowing that a government agency wants the whole country to be sucked into its confluence of confusion.”

Pang said some members of the LGBT community had difficulty accessing health care in Malaysia. “This kind of contest will only add to the confusion and distrust and fear,” he said.

Malaysian deputy director general of health Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said the contest, which closes in August, was “never intended to discriminate any specific group” and that it was “purely to tap knowledge and creativity of adolescents on sexual and reproductive health-related matters”.

Malaysia outlaws homosexuality, criminalising anal sex, which can result in imprisonment, corporal punishment and fines.

In March Malaysia’s film censorship board demanded cuts to Disney’s hit Beauty and the Beast because of a supposed “gay moment”, which was so subtle most viewers failed to notice it.

Disney refused and the Malaysian film board eventually conceded and it was shown uncut.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed for sodomy in 2014 after a court overturned his earlier acquittal. In elections in 2013, he led a three-party alliance which threatened the Umno coalition which has governed the Muslim-majority country for more than 50 years.

Picture credit: Flickr