The Health Ministry of Malaysia has launched a public video-making contest promoting ways to prevent homosexuality in the predominantly Muslim country. The contest is being heavily promoted on the ministry’s website and Facebook page, and offers cash prizes of up to $940.
The contest is open to the youth ages 13-24 and runs from June 1 to August 31. The video-making competition is based on the theme “Value Yourself, Practice Healthy Lifestyle.” Contestants are also encouraged to submit as many three-minute video on any of the three categories: sexual reproduction, cybersex and gender confusion.
The contest asks entries to introduce the issue and its consequences, but one of the most controversial elements of the competition states that there should be suggestions on how to prevent, control, resolve and seek help for the problem.
LGBT activists and advocates are up in arms against the contest and are accusing the health ministry of Malaysia of encouraging the spread of misinformation and inciting hatred against the LGBT. They also said that the contest and its theme are against human rights. The activists are calling on the UN, WHO and Global Fund European Union and all those that support human rights to come forward and support them in their fight against the anti-gay competition.
Gay rights prominent activist in Malaysia Phang Kee Teik said: “The very fact that they lump LGBT people under a category called ‘gender confusion’ shows that the authorities are very much confused themselves.”
The ministry has responded to the backlash from the gay community. Health deputy director-general released a statement defending the project and said that it was meant to “enhance teen knowledge on healthy lifestyle choices”.” He also explained that the topics were selected due to a rise in sexual and reproductive health issues among teens, including higher number of sexual activity and of HIV transmission. The ministry also insisted that it does not discriminate against any group including LGBT on providing health services.
Homosexuality remains illegal in conservative Malaysia.