An app developed by the Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), a federal government agency in Malaysia as a conversion therapy platform for LGBTQIA+ people has been taken off the Google Play Store.
The removal came after Google received complaints. The Play Store’s guidelines state that apps that attempt “to deceive users” or “enable dishonest behaviour”, including apps that are found “to be functionally impossible” are not allowed on the platform.
The app named “Hijrah Diri” was reported to have been launched in July 2016 but regained attention after Jakim announced its existence on social media this week. The app has since received backlash from human rights groups and LGBTQIA+ activists.
About conversion therapy in Malaysia
APTN’s research on Conversion Therapy Practices (CTPs) in South and Southeast Asia shows that CTPs in Malaysia are enabled by an environment of criminalisation, widespread social conservatism, transphobic media and political leaders, official government documents, and pseudo-academic articles published in unaccredited journals.
Trans people are subject to arrests, fines, and judicial corporal punishment under a number of sharia provisions that cover both sexual orientation and gender identity. CTPs in Malaysia are perpetrated by parents, school systems, religious institutions, and the state, which disguise CTPs as religious education programmes (such as the Mukhayyam programme) or programmes for Hijrah Diri (self-pilgrimage) e-book.
Who are the perpetrators?
Our research includes testimonies from both transmasculine and transfeminine people as others such as activists, psychologists, lawyers, and progressive Islamic scholars.
– 62% of the interviewed trans people stated that a parent or parental figure had tried to change their sexual orientation or gender identity
– 31% mentioned that they had been subjected to CTPs either by religious authorities or a religious institution.
– 54% mentioned being subjected to CTPs from multiple sources
What does Conversion Therapy Practices (CTP) look like in Malaysia?
Some of the practices include showing trans women videos about death and dying (to strike the fear of God in them) and forcing them to participate in strenuous physical activity in the hope that it will make them more “masculine”. There are also a number of private Islamic healing clinics which “treat” LGBTI people through the recitation of Quranic verses and the spraying of black pepper seeds over their eyes, purportedly to expel Satan from them.
Anti-LGBTQI Legislation in Malaysia
- Penal Code 1936, S. 377A/377B Unnatural Offenses
377A. Any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature.
377B. Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be liable to whipping.
2. Penal Code 1936, S. 377D Outrages on Decency
377D. Any person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
How does anti-trans legislation in Malaysia affect trans communities?
As the law treats trans men as women, and because it criminalises homosexuality as well, they may be charged for engaging in musahaqah (sexual activity between women), attracting fines of up to RM 5,000 (USD$1,200), imprisonment of up to three years, or judicial corporal punishment of up to six strokes of a cane, or a combination of the three.
Trans women are subject to arrests and/or fines under state sharia laws that criminalise “a man (who wears) a woman’s attire or poses as a woman for immoral purposes.
Asia Pacific Transgender Network demands that the Malaysian government:
- Investigate harms resulting from CTPs in the Malaysian context and establish a database of the CTPs faced by trans people.
- Create an independent scholastic review of Islamic jurisprudence on trans people in Malaysia.
- Calling for media articles grounded in evidence and compassion, highlighting the harm of CTPs on trans people and LGBTI communities on all media outlets.
- Calling for urgent statements from medical and psychiatric professionals, stating that conversion therapy is harmful and its practitioners are violating medical ethics.
- Commit to rigorous scientific standards and a clear denouncement of studies promoting CTPs.
Conversion therapy is cruel, inhuman and degrading.
Conversion ‘therapy’ is not informed by any scientific principles and has been banned by many countries, including India. Such practices are unethical and harmful, causing immense trauma in subjects forcibly subjected to CTPs.
You can read more about Conversion Therapy Practices in Asia here:
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