To the fury and disbelief of rights activists, the Malaysian government has endorsed a list of identifiable gay and lesbian traits for schools and parents to prevent the spread of what it perceives as a phenomenon among teenagers, especially students, media reports said.
The list, which was published by the Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily on Thursday, categorises lesbians as people who are attracted to women, who like to eat, sleep and hang out in the company of other women, and who have no affection for men.
Its list for men includes preferences for V-necks and sleeveless clothes.
In a seminar in Penang on Wednesday, Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said not many people understood or knew the early "symptoms" of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender inclinations to prevent its spread, liberal news portal Malaysian Insider reported.
Official news agency Bernama quoted him as saying that the "time has come for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issue to be discussed openly and not seen as a 'taboo'".
He was speaking during the launch of the Parents Handling LGBT Issues seminar.
Dr Puad said the ministry took a serious view of the issue and did not want it to start in schools "as it could lead to bigger problems if not contained".
He said: "In our country, there are signs of support among certain parties to the Seksualiti Merdeka movement whose objectives are to defend the LGBT community on human rights grounds."
Seksualiti Merdeka is an annual sexuality rights festival held in Kuala Lumpur. It features talks, forums, workshops, art, theatre and music performances, and film screenings, organised by a coalition of Malaysian NGOs and artists.
It was banned by the Home Ministry last November.
Dr Puad also said the parents should play their part by monitoring their children's activities, especially the websites they visit often, so that they are not influenced by social media platforms run by LGBT supporters.
When asked to comment, activist and Seksualiti Merdeka co-founder Pang Khee Teik told Free Malaysia website: "I don't even know how to respond."
He then slammed the Education Ministry for being "only interested in teaching hate, promoting inequality and playing politics".
Homosexuality has long been considered taboo in Malaysia.
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked his then-deputy, Mr Anwar Ibrahim, on charges of sodomy and abuse of power in 1998, citing such behaviour as unacceptable for a Malaysian leader.
Mr Anwar went free six years later after the sodomy conviction was overturned. He fought off a similar charge earlier this year.
In July, Prime Minister Najib Razak and Mr Anwar voiced their disapproval of the LGBT community.
Mr Najib had said during an assembly of 11,000 members of mosque committees that LGBTs were "enemies of Islam".
Gay men have muscular bodies and like to show off by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes
They prefer tight and light-coloured clothing
They like to carry big handbags similar to those used by women
Get The New Paper for more stories.