A Malaysian politician has endorsed a government-funded gay conversion therapy programme, after claiming the harmful practice has ‘cured’ up to 1,500 LGBT+ people in the country.
Mohd Izwan Md Yusof, who works for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, made the comments in a speech on October 29. The Islamic Development Department receives $200 million in government funding.
Addressing a crowd, Mohd Izwan Md Yusof said:
“In Islam, we don’t support the LGBT lifestyle but we have to take a different approach to counsel them instead of hating them.
“We have helped 1,450 people under the programme where some have gone on to get married, some have changed their dressing and some are practising control from going back to that lifestyle.”
The government official also criticized same-sex boarding schools, as he claimed that the environments may encourage “gay tendencies”:
“These same-sex boarding schools mean the students spend a lot of time with the same sex and they might be unaware of the inappropriate influences they are exposed to especially at a young age.
“Parents should be more aware of their children’s activities because gay tendencies can be developed at a young age due to LGBT influences.”
Malaysia has seen a sharp rise in the persecution of LGBT+ people following the election of a new government this summer. Last month, two Malaysian women were publicly caned six times each in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu after they were convicted for attempting to have sex in a car. Additionally, authorities raided Blue Boy, a popular gay nightclub in Kuala Lumpur, and arrested over 20 men. The nightclub had been around for years, but this was its first raid. The men were subsequently forced to undergo conversion therapy.
A British Empire colonial law criminalises same-sex relations in the country. Under this law, LGBT+ people may be punished by fines, corporal punishments and prison sentences of up to 20 years.
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