KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14, 2012 (AFP) - Beware tight clothes, V-neck tops and boys with handbags, authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia are warning parents -- they could be the "symptoms" of homosexuality in their children.
Two teachers' groups, with government blessing, have held seminars recently to advise parents on homosexuality's supposedly tell-tale signs, Malaysian media have reported.
For boys, they included muscular bodies and the tendency to show them off in tight-fitting clothes and V-neck or sleeveless tops, the reports said.
Light-coloured clothes and the carrying of handbags by boys were also deemed worthy of suspicion.
"Symptoms" of lesbianism, meanwhile, included a tendency to accompany, eat meals and sleep in the company of other women.
"Definitely we support the seminars because it's good for parents to be exposed to LGBT symptoms," Deputy Education Minister Mohamad Puad Zarkashi told AFP on Friday, while declining direct comment on the guidelines.
"At least preventive action can be taken," said Mohamad Puad, who officiated one of the seminars in northern Penang state earlier this week.
Homosexuality has long been taboo in Malaysia, where 60 percent of the population is Muslim, and where sodomy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Religious and government officials regularly warn of the alleged threat posed to Malaysian society by homosexuality and last year authorities banned an annual gay rights festival.
Mohamad Puad added that homosexuals "contribute to HIV, so why should we support their activities?"
Gay rights activist Pang Khee Teik condemned the approach.
"It's discriminating and it's harmful... In this instance the ministry of education has proven that Malaysian education is shockingly behind the rest of the world," he told AFP.
"The ministry of education has itself become a bully -- and a joke," he said.