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Malaysia holds competition for best 'gay prevention' video

Malaysia's Health Ministry is offering prizes for videos on how to "prevent" homosexuality and transgenderism. Homosexuality is banned in the country, and sodomy laws can result in jail sentences or corporal punishment.

The Malaysian government is offering up to $1,000 (886 euros) in cash prizes in a competition for the best videos on how to "prevent" homosexuality and on "issues and consequences" resulting from certain sexual orientations.

On the Health Ministry's website, people are invited to submit a video clip for categories including "gender identity disorder," containing suggestions as to "prevention, control and how to get help." It cited gay, lesbian and transsexual people, as well as tomboys, as examples of what the ministry calls a "disorder."

"Each work will be judged on originality, content, concept and creativity and quality production by a panel of judges appointed by the organizers," the website said, with the competition due to close at the end of August.

Participants in the competition can also make videos about sex and the internet, or sexual health, with the overall theme of the contest described as being "Value Yourself, Healthy Lifestyle Practice."

The Malaysian deputy director-general of health, Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, said the contest was to gather views and enhance knowledge among teens on healthy lifestyle practices.

"This creative video competition is purely to tap knowledge and creativity of adolescents on sexual and reproductive health related matters and does not intend to create discrimination to any particular group," he said in a statement to Reuters news agency.

Read:  Asia: Downward trends in free expression

Growing intolerance?

Activists in Malaysia reacted with dismay, saying the move will increase fear among the country's LGBT community, which they said is already intimidated by increasing intolerance.

Nisha Ayub, Malaysia's most prominent LGBT activist, said authorities were fueling hatred and discrimination against the community with the competition.

"The ministry needs to revise this and think about their actions," she said.

Read:  A woman's fight to embolden Malaysia's voiceless

Under Malaysian law, homosexuality is criminalized, and gay sex can carrying punishments of up to 20 years in prison, caning or a fine.

The country's negative attitude to homosexuality came to the international forefront in March when its film censorship board demanded that a "gay moment" be cut from the Disney hit movie "Beauty and the Beast."

Disney refused to cut anything from the film, and the censors eventually allowed it to be shown in the country with a "P13" rating, meaning that children under 13 needed adult accompaniment to be able to watch it.

tj/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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