Malaysian authorities have released a three-minute video claiming sexual orientation can be changed with “extensive training and guidance.”
The video released by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) calls on LGBT+ people to repent for their sexuality through marriage and fasting. It also encourages the Islamic community to “be patient” with those who identify as queer.
LGBT+ people have no legal protection against discrimination within Malaysia. Gay sex is a criminal offence under the countries laws, punishable by fines or up to 20 years in prison. In November 2019, the Harian Metro reported that five men had been arrested, sentenced to six months in jail, and received six strokes of a can for attempting homosexual intercourse.
Under both state courts and Sharia law, changing gender is illegal. The Human Rights Watch Annual Report 2015 stated, “transgender persons face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, discriminatory denial of healthcare and employment, and other abuses.”
Since the video went up on Facebook, it has received over a thousand watches with mixed response. As reported in Wellston Journal, one person wrote, “Colour me surprised with rainbow colours. JAKIM actually came out with a video that is non-hateful of the LGBT community.”
However, JAKIM’s video has also garnered backlash for encouraging ‘reparative therapy’. One Facebook user stated, “This video is going to make people believe that there is a way to ‘change‘ homosexuals into heterosexuals. No way you can do that.”
Another person stated, “So JAKIM‘s strategy is to use compassion to lure Muslim LGBT+ to the ‘right‘ path while enacting anti-LGBT syariah laws to punish and ruin the lives of those who decide to follow their heart and their own conviction.”
Malaysian authorities have previously taken action to change the sexuality and gender of an LGBT+ person. In 2017, the Malaysian Government endorsed a video comparing sexual orientation to horse riding and required a person to undergo extensive training and guidance.
In 2014, JAKIM set up spiritual rehabilitation camps for transgender people. Numerous medical and gender experts criticised this action. Clinical psychologist Vizla Kumaresan told Malay Mail Online, “It is not about rehabilitating the person but working towards the well being of the person. And that well being comes from the person safely undergoing the process of change.”
Under the countries restrictive laws, many LGBT+ people are left feeling unsafe and isolated from their community. This video enforces a dangerous ‘norm’ that harms the queer community and their relation to others.
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