KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government is holding seminars to help teachers and parents identify signs of homosexuality in children, in a bid to curb the problem especially among Muslims in the south-eastern Asian country.
"It is a multi-religious and multicultural [event], after all, all religions are basically against that type of behavior," a spokesman for the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia told Reuters reported on Friday, September 14.
Aiming to help teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children, the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia has organized 10 seminars across the country.
Attendance at the last event on Wednesday reached 1,500 people, the official added.
Guidelines which advise gays can be identified have been published in a joint venture by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and the Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.
According to a handout issued at a recent seminar, signs of homosexuality in boys may include preferences for tight, light-colored clothes and large handbags, local media reported.
For girls, the details were less clear.
Girls with lesbian tendencies have no affection for men and like to hang out and sleep in the company of women, the reports said.
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI called for defending humanity against the threat posed by homosexual behaviors, warning homosexual acts could lead to the self-destruction of the human race.
Muslim Malays form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26-million population, while Christians make up around 9.1 percent.
Government officials were also involved in the seminars for teachers and parents.
"Youths are easily influenced by websites and blogs relating to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] groups," Bernama quoted deputy education minister Puad Zarkashi as saying.
"This can also spread among their friends. We are worried that this happens during schooling time."
The seminars followed a series of decisions taken by the Malaysian government towards homosexuals.
In March the federal government made reference to the problem of homosexuality, The Guardian revealed.
Homosexuality is banned and punishable under criminal law in Malaysia by caning and up to 20 years in jail.
Two Malaysian states, Pahang and Malacca, were considering harsher laws against Muslims involved in or supporting homosexual-related activities as contradicting to the tenets of Islamic Shari`ah.
New legal amendments, planned by Pahang and Malacca religious authorities, would give the state government additional ammunition.
If the proposed changes came into force, a Muslim homosexual could be punished under both federal and state religious charges, meaning that jail terms could run consecutively and result in longer time.