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World
09 Jun 2017

Malaysia amends anti-LGBT sex education competition following criticism

Malaysia's Health Ministry amended a sex education video competition, removing guidelines for a section on preventing homosexuality and transgenderism.

The decision follows criticism by activists, who said the contest could fan violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

The competition originally required participants to submit video clips for one of the three categories- sexual and reproductive health, cybersex, and gender identity disorder.

In context

Malaysia: Sex education video competition and LGBT community

Contest

Activists protested against the anti-LGBT competition

Initially, the guidelines stated the videos must include elements describing the consequences of being LGBT and how to "prevent, control, and ways to seek help" for them.

The competition for 13-24 year-olds is offering prizes of up to $1,000 for the best videos.

In Malaysia, homosexuality is illegal under both religious and secular laws and is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment.

Meeting

"Gender identity disorder" category replaced with "gender and sexuality"

The Malaysian Deputy Director General of Health, Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, stated the competition's offending category was replaced with "gender and equality".

The decision was taken after a meeting between Health Ministry officials with the Malaysian AIDS Council, experts, and representatives of 'key population groups'.

He added, "This meeting successfully cleared the misunderstandings and collectively improvements were made to the competition guideline."

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Lokman previously defended the competition categories

Categories

Lokman previously defended the competition categories

Lokman earlier stated the topics were chosen as statistics showed a spike in sexual and reproductive health problems in teens, including higher rates of sexual activity and an increased HIV transmission.

However, he later said the competition's purpose was "not to single out or to discriminate" against the LGBT people but to explore teens' views and identify gaps in health services.

Transgender activist Nisha Ayub's statement

Welcoming the Ministry's decision, transgender activist Nisha Ayub, (who earlier raised concerns over the contest) stated: "We have to create a safe space for discussions and raise awareness. I hope this kind of engagement with officials will continue at other government agencies."

LGBT Community

Intolerance of LGBT people in Malaysia

Intolerance of LGBT community has increased in recent years in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic Southeast Asian nation with a Muslim majority.

In Mar'17, the release of Walt Disney's 'Beauty And The Beast' was postponed in Malaysia as it contained "a gay moment".

Despite demands, Disney refused to remove the scene featuring its first openly gay character LeFou, following which the film was screened uncut.

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