June 9, 2017 | Sex & Society

Malaysia drops video contest on "staying straight"

MalaysiaThe Malaysian government is currently running a "sex education" video contest for young people between the ages of 13 and 24.
 
However, one of the categories -- about "preventing" homosexuality -- caused a worldwide outcry, with many arguing the contest would result in increased hatred and violence towards the LGBT community.
 
The videos were expected to show the "consequences" of being LGBT as well as how to "prevent, control and [offer] ways to seek help." Deputy Director-General of Health Lokman Hakim Sulaiman defended the original category, arguing it was an attempt to promote creativity not discrimination. (Um, okay.)
 
However, after meeting with various groups and other governmental officials, the health ministry removed the "gender identity disorder" category with a broader "gender and sexuality" category.
 
“This meeting successfully cleared the misunderstandings, and collectively improvements were made to the competition guideline,” Sulaiman explained.
 
"We have to create a safe space for discussions and raise awareness," said trans activist Nisha Ayub in response to the decision. "I hope this kind of engagement with officials will continue at other government agencies."
 
The country is known for its intolerance towards the queer community. Homosexuality is banned by both secular and religious laws; those found guilty of engaging in homosexual activity face either prison or corporal punishment.
 
Of course, the change doesn't prohibit contestants from submitting videos that follow the original guidelines, so it'll be interesting to see which entry takes the $1,000 prize.

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