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Sexual orientation can be changed, Malaysia's Islamic authority says in new video

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's Islamic authority has suggested that sexual orientation can be changed with extensive training, in a recent video explaining how Muslims can approach the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

A woman holds a huge rainbow flag during the Gay Pride parade in Belgrade on September 18, 2016. Photo: AFP

A woman holds a huge rainbow flag during the Gay Pride parade in Belgrade on September 18, 2016. Photo: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's Islamic authority has suggested that sexual orientation can be changed with extensive training, in a recent video explaining how Muslims can approach the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The three-minute video, which is in Malay, has since received mixed reception from some Malaysians, with several praising it as a softer strategy that does not promote hate against the maligned minority; while others felt it still failed to acknowledge the community.

“Fact is, there are those among Muslims that have non-heterosexual orientation but remains steadfast on the path of Islam.

“For them, this is a test of Allah, and they choose to face the test appropriate with what Islam demands,” said the video, which was shared by social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi in a public post on his Facebook profile on Sunday (Feb 12).

Dr Mohd Izwan Yusof, an assistant senior director of the family, social and community department at the Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim), corroborated in a separate post that his group was responsible for the video.

In the video, Jakim had likened sexual orientation with horse-riding, claiming that when someone realises that he has “different” orientation from others and wishes to change that orientation, he should receive extensive training and guidance.

Jakim said to change one’s sexual orientation, one must intend to do so for God’s sake instead of being forced and repent one’s homosexuality, in addition to leaving activities that would lead to same-sex relations.

It also urged a repentant homosexual to fulfill his sexual desires through marriage, or subdue such desires by among others resorting to fasting.

The video also advised Muslims to be patient, and to help their LGBT friends change and return to the straight path.

Conversion therapy which consists of psychological treatment or spiritual counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual, is widely seen by medical and scientific community as potentially harmful and a form of pseudo-science.

The practice is opposed and has been legally challenged, or even banned, in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Israel, Lebanon, Malta, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 2014, several medical and gender experts questioned the “success” of Jakim’s spiritual rehabilitation camp for transgenders, insisting they need medical care to transition them into their affirmed gender identities rather than rehabilitation to return them to what some may consider “normal”.

At the time of writing, the video has been watched more than 10,000 times, and received positive responses from Facebook users.

“Congratulations Jakim for producing a video with no elements of hatred towards the LGBT. I hope Jakim’s missionary department can remind each state to not act rough towards the LGBT,” posted Azira Aziz.

“The video’s soft approach on advising, respect for privacy and emphasis on free will is definitely commendable. This is far better than saying they’re sinners, they’re going to hell,” remarked Luq Harith.

The video however received criticisms for suggesting that homosexuality can be changed, such as by user Sheelabanu Sri Jaya who said: “This video is going to make people believe that there is a way to ‘change’ homosexuals into heterosexuals. No way you can do that.”

“I was not impressed by the video. And it’s very dangerous for them to encourage heterosexual marriage as a way to ‘fix’ the LGBT person, for the person, the spouse and the children they may bear,” commented Huda Mutalib.

“Calling for reparative therapy is not exactly good intentions, let alone genuine respect that LGBT people should live their lives the way they want it to be,” added Zulaikha Mohammad. MALAY MAIL ONLINE

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