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Outrage sparks in Malaysia over guidelines to identify gay symptoms in children

Malaysia's Education Ministry has "endorsed guidelines" to help parents identify gay and lesbian "symptoms" in their children, Malaysian news website Malaysiakini reports.

The list of guidelines allegedly lists eight "symptoms" -- four for gays and four for lesbians.

Malaysiakini listed them on their website

(see photo at the right).

“Once the children have these symptoms, immediate attention should be given,” the guidelines warned, according to Malaysiakini.

The guidelines were launched this week during a seminar in the Malaysian state of Penang, independent news agency Free Malaysia Today reports.

The event -- “Parenting in addressing the issue of LGBTs” -- was reportedly officiated by Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

“Youths are easily influenced by websites and blogs relating to LGBT groups. This can also spread among their friends. We are worried that this happens during schooling time,” Puad told the 1,500 teachers and parents gathered, according to Malaysiakini.

Penang is reportedly the fourth Malaysian state to hold such a seminar.

The guidelines have already triggered an outpouring of outrage on social media sites like Facebook. Human rights and LGBT activists have also been speaking out against these new guidelines with "shock and disgust."

“The Ministry of Education is now officially a bully,” Malaysian LGBT activist Pang Khee Teik told Free Malaysia Today. “I never presumed to be in the position to teach the meaning of education to the people running the Ministry of Education. But it has come to that."

“[The ministry] must stop this inhuman campaign against vulnerable children,” he continued. “It should teach all children to be confident and to respect each other no matter who they are.”

LGBT rights in Malaysia have long been a contentious issue.

Sodomy remains a crime in the Islamic country and is punishable by as much as 20 years in prison.

According to the New York Times, that law is rarely prosecuted. However, Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently the opposition leader in the Malaysian Parliament, was famously sentenced in 1998 to nine years in prison for engaging in sodomy with two men. He served six years in prison before the sodomy conviction was overturned. (Anwar was accused of sodomy again in 2008, but was acquitted earlier this year.)

Just this week, Azril Mohd Amin, the vice president of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia said that LGBT rights should be "excluded from a human rights declaration currently being drafted by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," LGBT website Gay Star News reports.

In a letter to a Malaysian newspaper, Amin reportedly "argued that Malaysia must express its ‘unalterable position on LGBTs’ during the upcoming regional consultation on the draft declaration."

"Malaysian and those who are against LGBT rights are thereby protecting the human race from the secular fallacy, perpetrated by the United Nations, that human beings may do as they please, within their so-called "sovereign borders" (as laid down by the European powers)," he wrote, according to Gay Star News.

To read the original story or to visit HuffPost Gay Voices, a content partner with SDGLN, click HERE.