Politics

Activists condemn creation of Malaysian LGBT+ rehabilitation center

Bangkok, Dec 1 (EFE).- Activist groups called for a review of plans for the inauguration of a rehabilitation center for LGBT+ people and individuals considered “deviant” in Malaysia and reiterated their concern about possible human rights violations that this would imply.

“Detaining people on the grounds of changing their SOGIE – sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – amounts to torture without a doubt,” NGO Justice for Sisters’ co-founder Thilaga Sulathireh said in a statement.

Mohd Fared Mohd Khalid, the Islamic Religious Affairs Committee of Johor’s chairman, announced an allocation of MYR400,000 (about $86,000) for the creation of a rehabilitation center for LGBT+ people scheduled to open in July 2024.

Mohd Fared said in a session of the regional assembly Wednesday that the center seeks to ensure that those admitted “can return to the right path,” according to local media. He said that in addition to LGBT+ people, the facility plans to house individuals who “they consider deviated” from the religious orthodoxy prescribed by the Malaysian state.

In a Thursday statement, Justice for Sisters, which works for the rights of women and the LGBT+ community, said it condemned the establishment of this center and denounced that its inauguration is only possible “due to the criminalization of LGBT+ people in Malaysia.”

Its opening and operation, it said, raises “serious concerns about the possible violation of human rights, including the rights to equality and non-discrimination, to privacy, and to a dignified life, free of torture.”

The laws of Malaysia, where the official religion is Islam and 60 percent of the population is Muslim, criminalize relationships between people of the same sex and, since 2020, the country has seen an increasing criminalization of LGBT+ expressions at concerts, festivals and literary works.

However, Justice for Sisters said “criminalization and any form of effort to change the gender identity of an LGBT+ person is a violation of human rights,” so centers such as the one planned in Johor violate both Malaysia’s constitution and international law.

Activists also said medical and human rights organizations worldwide have widely discredited and condemned sexual conversion practices and recognize the absence of a scientific basis for them.

Likewise, both the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, among other institutions, have repeatedly called for conversion practices to be banned worldwide. EFE

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