“Signs of homosexuality in boys may include preferences for tight, light-coloured clothes and large handbags”

You have saved yourself a day’s course there. It might sound like something from Victorian England, but this is modern day Malaysia. Teachers are reportedly being encouraged to attend seminars which warn them of the signs which suggest students in their class might grow up to be homosexual.

The government has organised ten seminars across the country. Attendance at the last event reportedly reached 1,500 people, according to the Guardian.

The course admits that tell-tale signs of prospective lesbians are harder to pin point, suggesting that shunning the company of boys and wanting to sleep in a bed with girls might be a giveaway. So that’s virtually every little girl in the world.

It’s amusing on one level to imagine teachers taking notes on what to keep their eyes peeled for. How big is a bag that’s so big it denotes sexuality? Personally I think forcing an entire generation of boys to wear tiny handbags as a display of masculinity sounds like it might have been a draft for a Monty Python sketch, but each to their own.

Except that is not really the moral of the course and there is a serious side, as it reflects a worrying trend towards increased homophobia in the country.

Earlier this year, the federal government said that it is working to curb the "problem" of homosexuality, especially among Muslims who make up the majority of the population.

Sodomy is still a prosecutable crime, and can be punished by flogging or a 20 year prison sentence. It is rarely carried out, but Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has twice been tried for sodomy, in cases he claimed to be political conspiracies. He spent six years in jail.

There is educating to be done, but its purpose should be to placate the fears of adults in the country about the spread of “dangerous homosexuality” and to urgently increase tolerance amongst the population.

 

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