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A clear case of misplaced priority

 | September 18, 2012

For some mysterious reasons, the LGBT community has become the BN government's enemy number one.

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The federal government’s paranoia over the existence of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) has reached boiling point, with the Education Ministry gladly endorsing a Putrajaya guideline on how to witch-hunt this community.

If previously BN’s homophobic politicians spared no effort in screaming their lungs out when gay performers like Elton John and Adam Lambert turned up on Malaysian shores to entertain their fans, the federal government’s on-going attack on the LGBT community has now taken a turn for the worst.

On Sept 13, Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily reported that the Education Ministry had endorsed a parenting guide that describes symptoms of homosexuality purportedly for the benefit of parents and teachers.

The guide was launched during a seminar in Penang on Sept 12. The event, billed as “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders)”, was officiated by Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

However, three days later, the Education Ministry denied ever endorsing any such LGBT-bashing guidelines.

The ministry’s denial, despite the guide being published by Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations, will go down in the country’s history as the most outrageous of attempts at “strengthening” prejudice and hatred towards the LGBT community.

The guide, among others, stereotypes boys who enjoy wearing V-necks and sleeveless tops as “gays in the making”. And should such boys take a liking to tight and bright-coloured clothes or fancy carrying handbags meant for women, they are “definitely gay”.

Aiyo! Should wives whose husbands have no qualms carrying their handbags start having sleepless nights worrying that their husbands are closet gays?

Indeed, how more preposterous can the Education Ministry get? How and where did the idea dawn upon it that a preference for bright-coloured clothing is the tell-tale sign of a “gay” identity?

The same approach is taken by the guide in identifying whether a girl has lesbian tendencies. If a girl keeps away from women in general and prefers the company of her “girlfriend”, she is a confirmed lesbian.

Clearly, the guide is the work of those who have not the slightest idea of what makes for a gay man or gay woman. Taking potshots at the LGBT community by making random assumptions has only belittled the so-called credibility of the Education Ministry.

LGBT is not a ‘disease’

The homophobic’s twisted logic is that LGBT is a “disease” and is contagious, hence the abhorrence towards the likes of Elton John and Adam Lambert.

For some mysterious reasons, the LGBT community has become the BN government’s enemy number one and numerous attempts are being made to bring the curtain down on this marginalised community, with the guideline being the latest endeavour.

But in a country where sex involving minors is on the rise and so is the rate of HIV infections among those below the age of 18, why the focus on condemning the existence of the LGBT community? A clear case of misplaced priority, is it not?

The government pretends to be coy when it comes to implementing sex education in schools and has made it clear that no mention of condoms be made to students by non-governmental organisations that speak to them about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

No surprise then when our schoolchildren have no clue on what is a condom and its use. But when teenage pregnancy repeatedly makes news, the government starts behaving in the most hypocritical way possible, looking for whom to blame.

Politicising the LGBT cause

The guide, if anything, is a by-product of the hatred the BN government has for the LGBT community, which escalated after the deputy inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar deemed Seksualiti Merdeka, an annual platform for the LGBT community, a “threat to the nation”.

Since when did this community pose a danger to the nation’s safety? And as publishers of this implausible guide, are both Yayasan Guru Malaysia and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations cronies of the BN administration, who are willing to instigate the already prejudicial society against the LGBT group?

Just where did the publishers of this guide get their information from?

The national news agency Bernama quoted Mohd Puad as saying parents and teachers should know these symptoms so that they could address social problems among teenagers, especially those still in school.

“It is now time that this LGBT issue be discussed openly and not treated as taboo,” he was quoted as saying.

What an irony that Mohd Puad wants the LGBT issue to be talked about openly and not be seen as a taboo. Is this anti-LGBT guide not all about taboo against this community?

The guide, as quoted by Sin Chew, has the gall to say: “Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given.”

No doubt this guide is the work of ignorant and homophobic minds out to malign the LGBT community.

Had the publishers of this guide been “knowledgeable”, they would have extensively studied the issue of LGBT and not make irresponsible remarks, liking homosexuality to a disease.

Shape good minds, not evil thoughts

Our education system keeps failing us; instead of developing critical minds, it is busy working at producing a future generation that will be morally bankrupt and hideous in its treatment of others.

If this what the Education Ministry is up to, how worthwhile then is its recently unveiled national education blueprint? What really is the ministry up to each time it engages in one revamp after another to the system when clearly the system ends up teaching children how to hate those who are “different”?

Why is the ministry, which is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (who in November last year said that Seksualiti Merdeka was “a deviationist activity that did not bring any benefit to the people in the country as a whole and is against the tradition, culture and religion practised by the various communities in the country”) not teaching the children and parents the “symptoms” of a paedophile, rapist or molester?

What is the purpose of the education system then? Is it to teach children that “good” people attract the opposite and that “bad” people attract people of the same orientation?

Has the education system taken it upon itself to send across the message to the young minds that it is all right to disrespect human rights and persecute people based on their sexual orientation, despite the international human rights charter saying otherwise?

If yes and if this is what our schools have come to, it is time a guide is made available detailing the downfall of our education system.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.


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