KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's health ministry has amended a sex education video competition for teenagers, dropping guidelines for a section on how to "prevent" homosexuality and transgenderism, officials said yesterday.
The move follows criticism by activists who said it could fan hatred and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The contest had originally required participants to submit video clips for one of three categories: sexual and reproductive health, cybersex and "gender identity disorder". Its guidelines added that the videos must include elements showing the "consequences" of being LGBT, as well as how to "prevent, control and ways to seek help" for them.
Deputy director-general of health Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said in a statement the offending category had been replaced with "gender and sexuality".
The decision was made after a meeting between ministry officials, the Malaysian Aids Council, experts and representatives of "key population groups", Mr Lokman said. "This meeting successfully cleared the misunderstandings and collectively improvements were made to the competition guidelines."
He had earlier defended the contest categories, saying the topics were chosen as statistics showed an increase in sexual and reproductive health problems among teens, including higher rates of sexual activity and a rise in HIV transmission.
On Wednesday, he said the aim of the contest was "not to single out or to discriminate" against the LGBT community, but to explore views among teens and identify gaps in health services.