Aids Council Slams Jakim S Conversion Therapy For Lgbts

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department is taken to task for deviating the original objective of its programme for the LGBT community. (Bernama pic)PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) has censured a purported revamp of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (Jakim) outreach (Mukhayyam) programme to rehabilitate LGBT persons
Referring to a recent report by news portal SAYS, which recounted the testimony of former Mukhayyam attendees about how members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were being “converted” to the “right path”, MAC said the programme had deviated from its original aim
In a statement, MAC said the Mukhayyam, a three-day camp for LGBTs reportedly held eight times a year by Jakim, was initially created to “provide a safe, non-judgmental space” to the transgender community
Furthermore, it said this was only meant to be a place to get religious exposure and for transgenders to receive assistance from Jakim and other religious authorities to “improve their livelihood through job opportunities”
“There was no imposition of rehabilitation and it was in this early iteration of the programme circa 2011 that MAC was involved with the sole purpose of elevating the socioeconomic status of transgender people who were bereft of employment due to discrimination
“However, in its later iterations, the programme deviated from its original intent. It was when rehabilitative and reparative components were introduced that MAC dissociated itself from the Mukhayyam programme,” MAC said
“MAC remains firm and steadfast in its stand that LGBT people do not require rehabilitation to correct their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
“Guided by scientific evidence and principles of human rights, MAC denounces any measures to intervene health behaviour that lacks scientific credence and violates an individual’s rights to health, dignity, safety and protection.”Recently, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa said some 1,450 participants have taken part in the Mukhayyam programme in recent years
The SAYS report said while the Mukhayyam mostly consisted of health and religious talks, Putrajaya had been “advocating and sanctioning” treatment to “guide them to the right path”, which it labelled as “conversion therapy”
The report also detailed how in other “Islamic spiritual healings”, transgenders wore men’s attires during prayers, bathed in salt and lime juice mixed water and had their buttocks beaten to “cleanse their body of the devil”
MAC said the LGBT conversion therapy had been “universally rejected” by the global scientific community because its “dubious methods to cure non-heteronormative sexualities” lacked “scientific merits”
“(Conversion therapy is rejected) also for its harmful effects on an individual resulting in emotional (and in some cases, physical) trauma without any of its desired ‘curative’ outcomes,” MAC said
“Propagating conversion therapy only fuels stigma, fear and discrimination against LGBT people, a key population that is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. It has absolutely no place in ending AIDS.”Generally, the HIV epidemic in Malaysia has been concentrated around sex workers, transgenders, injecting drug users and men who have sex with other men. Last year saw a spike in HIV infections among homosexuals and bisexuals
MAC said ending AIDS required “evidence-based” approaches that “respect the human rights” of all individuals with HIV or AIDS. It said continuing to use conversion therapy “sets back the progress of HIV science”
“Now, more than ever, HIV science has given us new and more effective tools to combat the spread of HIV thanks to the advent of antiretroviral treatment – treatment as prevention – and U=U (undetectable HIV viral load equals untransmissible)
“MAC calls upon all stakeholders in the national AIDS response, including Jakim and other religious authorities, to divert their focus to promoting health, care and compassion and their resources to prevention, treatment and support for LGBT people and other key populations vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.” - FMT

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