Lifestyle

LGBT groups defend Jakim

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – August 6, 2020: In a surprising twist, several Malaysia’s Muslim LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) groups have come to the defence of the National Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

They denied a claim that Jakim had been conducting forceful sexual reorientation therapies on their members.

The groups stated that their members were neither pressured, coerced nor compelled to attend Jakim’s Mukhayyam programme that was likened to conversion therapies by LGBT activist Nicole Fong in a series of tweets, last Thursday.

Apart from Jakim, four of the six groups – namely, Usrah Iqrak, Islah Movement, Pelangi Hijra and Hijrah Republique Network – have also lodged separate police reports over Fong’s tweets.

In a statement by the Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (Macsa) – which the groups are a member of – it was pointed out that the Mukhayyam programme was essentially religious classes for Muslim LGBT individuals who wanted to learn the basic tenets of Islam.

“Participation is completely voluntary with no elements of coercion involved and is far from the conversion therapy practised by other countries, which involves an element of forced participation.

“As Muslims, we make no apology for Islam’s religious beliefs and traditions and we believe that those among the LGBT communities who wish to be made aware, educated and even allowed to change have the right to do so in accordance with Islamic beliefs.

“The author has not produced any shred of evidence or show substantive proof to back her allegations that the Mukhayyam programmes are purportedly “conversion therapy” and has never participated in any such programmes to say if they are so,” read the statement.

Jakim director-general Datuk Paimuzi Yahya had on Monday condemned Fong’s claim which compared the Mukhayyam programme to conversion therapies practiced in other countries, such as using electric shock, surgery, forced marriages and corrective rape.

“Jakim is of the view that the allegations are manipulative, malicious and seen as wanting to hinder and restrict the right to freedom of religion of Muslims in the LGBT community who want to lead a better life in line with the requirements of Islamic laws,” he said.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.