KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 – The government has established a special committee to address issues pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Muslims in the country, said Senator Mohd Na’im Mokhtar.
The committee, which was set up through the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), comprises ministries, departments, agencies, and NGOs that will coordinate LGBT issues among Muslims, from the education, advocacy, guidance, and enforcement perspectives.
“The members of the committee will perform tasks in accordance with their respective roles and function,” said Mohd Na’im, who is also minister in the Prime Minister’s department (religious affairs).
He was responding to a question from Pokok Sena MP Ahmad Saad, who wanted to know if the government was taking any strategic steps through a whole-of-government approach to curb any effort at normalising LGBT culture in the country.
According to Mohd Na’im, the committee, which will convene once a year or as needed, had a meeting on April 11, 2023.
“Based on reports and observations from January 2021 to April 2023, a number of programmes and enforcement actions were implemented by the relevant inter agencies on various LGBT issues,” he said in a written Dewan Rakyat reply.
In terms of education, prevention and advocacy, 18 programmes were implemented by agencies such as JAKIM, Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM) and the Selangor Mufti Department.
The programmes include webinars and seminars on social issues, and the PROSTAR programme 2.0 (healthy without AIDS programme for teenagers), which is run by the Ministry of Health.
For guidance, six programmes, including Mukhayyam programmes, were implemented for LGBT communities, which were organised by JAKIM, YADIM, Yayasan Ihtimam Malaysia, and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), according to Mohd Na’im.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Justice for Sisters (JFS), Mukhayyam are retreats that undertake sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts, known as conversion practices, targeting Muslim LGBT people.
In terms of action and enforcement, Mohd Na’im cited prevention of the animated film Lightyear from being screened in local cinemas, and the investigation of the Women’s March Movement for its “promotion of LGBT”.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had also attempted to get an explanation from Google on why the Hijrah Diri application was removed from the Google Play Store, said Mohd Na’im.
The Hijrah Diri app, which was supposed to help LGBT people “return to their nature”, was developed by JAKIM and Yayasan Ihtimam Malaysia. Google told The Guardian that the app was found to be in breach of its guidelines.
“LGBT behaviour is against religion, morality and Malaysian culture. Not only that, but homosexual behaviour is against the law of the land. It is prohibited by both shariah and civil law,” said Naim.
“Under Section 377 of the Penal Code, it is an offence for any person to have intercourse that is contrary to the law of nature.”
However, Naim said that the government does not discriminate against any group, including LGBT, as they are entitled to their fundamental rights such as the right to education, the right to practise religion, and the right to work in accordance with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Article 8(2) stipulates that there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the basis of religion, race, descent, place of birth, or gender in any law.