So easy to ridicule: Malaysian list of gay ‘symptoms’

Cartoon ridiculing Malaysian list of 'gay symptoms'
Cartoon ridiculing Malaysian list of ‘gay symptoms’ (Photo courtesy of

Anti-homosexual advocates in Malaysia are backing away from their list of “symptoms” for spotting gays and lesbians, which provoked widespread amusement when it was distributed online.

The Ministry of Education denied endorsing the document, although they played a prominent role in a seminar for parents that was led by Deputy Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

An official of one of the groups that drafted the document, Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad, said, “We never meant any harm. There was no bad intention. We were just doing this for the good of society and the nation.”

The guidelines list four symptoms each of gays and lesbians, the MalaysiaKini news website reported:

Symptoms of gays:

  • Have a muscular body and like to show their body by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes;
  • Prefer tight and light-coloured clothes;
  • Attracted to men; and
  • Like to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.

Symptoms of lesbians:

  • Attracted to women;
  • Besides their female companions, they will distance themselves from other women;
  • Like to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and
  • Have no affection for men.

The guidelines add, “Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given.”

According to Gay Star News, Malaysian media columnist Rom Nain said about the guidelines:

‘The stupidity is so deeply entrenched and evidently widespread among these people currently holding the reins of authority… Think of the immeasurable harm, physical and, more so, mental, that all this stupid, misinformed profiling is going to cause our kids.”

Malaysian law provides prison sentences of up to 20 years for homosexual activity.

But many critics of the guidelines focused on the light side of the issue.

One restaurant offered free meals to men who showed up there with V-neck shirts and large handbags.

Satirical images of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak displaying gay "symptoms." (Photo courtesy of Fake Malaysia News)
Satirical images of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak displaying gay “symptoms.” (Photo courtesy of Fake Malaysia News)

LGBT activists declared National Wear V-neck Day on Oct. 1.  More than 1,600 people have said they plan to participate after a notice about the event was posted on Facebook.

The website Fake Malaysia News published images of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak displaying all the listed “gay characteristics” from the guidelines.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at


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