Malaysian official claims 1,450 gay people have been ‘cured’

Malaysian schoolchildren wave national flags during the 60th National Day celebrations at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur.

A Malaysian official has claimed that 1,450 people have been ‘cured’ of homosexuality under a government rehabilitation programme.

The claim comes from Mohd Izwan Md Yusof, an official in the government’s Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

According to the Malay Mail, the official made the claim during a speech on LGBT issues in George Town on Monday (October 29), amid a wider government crackdown on the country’s gay community.

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.”

He added that the department, which has a government-funded budget of $200 million, runs a “mukhayyam” (spiritual camp) programme that can make LGBT people “go back to the right path.”

Malaysian Islamic Development Department officer Mohd Izwan Md Yusof (Malaysian Islamic Development Department)

The official said: “We have helped 1,450 people under the programme where some have went on to get married, some have changed their dressing and some are practising control from going back to that lifestyle.”

Yusof went on to claim that the LGBT+ population in Malaysia has increased from 173,000 in 2013 to 310,000 in 2018, blaming “the internet, social media and mobile apps” for the supposed increase.

He also attacked all-male boarding schools, claiming: “These same-sex boarding schools meant 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.”

Kuala Lumpur (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

As in many Commonwealth countries, gay sex is banned in Malaysia under a British Colonial-era penal code. A state-level form of Sharia law also operates in part of the country banning homosexuality and cross-dressing, which is used to persecute LGBT+ people.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia last week described LGBT+ rights as “Western values.”

The Malaysian government is stacked with opponents of LGBT+ rights.

In August, the country’s religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.

He said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”

The same month, Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ordered gay people to keep their sexuality secret, while Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye claimed that LGBT+ people suffer from an “organic disorder.”

Mahfuz Omar, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.