By Maya Palit
Malaysia is giving its people the chance to win anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 ringgit (that’s anywhere between 15 and 60K in INR) and of cold hard cash for coming up with the most effective explainers that could help the ‘prevention and control’ of ‘gayness’.
The contest’s name,”Value Yourself, Healthy Lifestyle Practice”, sounds innocuous enough and allows people to submit videos based on sexual health too. The health ministry’s website promises ominously that the submissions will be judged on orginality and creativity.
It isn’t that hard to digest that Malaysian health authorities are organising a contest around this theme if you take a second to note that in February this year, a government-sponsored video apparently praised the power of gay conversion therapy. Its federal authorities also claimed that homosexuality can be cured if the person has access to the support and guidance of friends. Disney was embroiled in a controversy this year too, after denying censors’ demand to cut a gay scene from Beauty and the Beast prior to its release in Malaysia.
And last year, a video series titled LGBT+ World Voices by Ditch the Label interviewed people about being gay in Malaysia, where homosexuality and sodomy remain illegal. Unsurprisingly, the material that surfaced were accounts of intimidation, but now activists are even more worried about the setbacks this new competition could have on the debates around Section 377 in Malaysia.