Malaysian government slammed for creating ‘conversion therapy’ app

malaysia conversion therapy app islamic
Image: Google Play Store

Malaysia’s government has been slammed for creating a “conversion therapy” mobile app for gay people to help them “overcome the problem of homosexuality” and “return to their original nature”.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) created the app, called Hijrah Diri Homoseksualiti. It’s currently available for download from the Google Play Store.

According to its description, the app includes “suggestions, ideas, explanations and interpretations” to help users “save themselves” and “overcome the problem of homosexuality”.

It takes the form of an e-book containing Islamic sermons and verses and other material, including the purported “real experiences of a gay man who abandoned homosexual behaviour”.

Announcing the app on social media, JAKIM explained it would “help the LGBT community return to their original nature”.

‘Take down this harmful app’

However many Malaysians have slammed the app. While some are in support, many flooded the app’s Google Play Store page with one-star reviews.

Many criticised the initiative as promoting dangerous and discredited “conversion” practices to change or suppress sexual orientation.

“This app is a government sponsored LGBT religious conversion therapy tool,” one reviewer wrote.

“I believe bigoted and hateful software such as this app has no place in the Google Play Store, or anywhere online.”

Another wrote, “This is unacceptable. LGBTQ Malaysians deverve better. Is this what you’re spending taxpayer money on? Stop spreading harmful rhetoric and endorsing a form of conversion therapy. Take down this harmful app.”

Someone else declared, “You’re sooo obsessed with the gays.”

Another joked, “I used to be gay before I downloaded this app and now I am even more gay. Dislike.”

However other reviewers pointed out the app’s extensive permissions were a major security and privacy risk.

“Why does an e-book need to access location, storage, camera, microphone? You guys trying to track gay people?” one reviewer queried.

Malaysian minister declares homosexuality a ‘social problem’

Last year, Human Rights Watch warned the Malaysian government was cracking down on the country’s LGBTIQ community.

Same-sex relations and gender nonconformity are illegal across Malaysia. But recently MPs in Malaysia have spoken in support of increasing criminal penalties.

Idris Ahmad is the minister responsible for Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM).

Last year, he announced he had set up a “taskforce” to target the “social problem” of homosexuality.

“We need to strengthen existing laws, as LGBT activists and icons are promoting a toxic lifestyle openly through social media,” he said.

“It must be done in an effort to prevent the normalisation of LGBT from becoming a culture in our society that can lead to the collapse of the family institution.”

Last week Ahmad told the country’s parliament that queer people are a “social problem”.

“As a nation adhering to Islam as the religion of the Federation and one that holds onto moral values that are based on custom, culture and religion long-practiced by the local society, LGBT goes against the grain of Malaysia’s faith, moral and culture,” he said.

“Under Section 377 of the Penal Code, it is an offense for anyone to have carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

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