Recently, JAKIM had announced their latest effort to save the LGBTQ among Muslims by introducing ‘Hijrah Diri – Homoseksualiti’, an application launched on the Google Play Store by JAKIM in collaboration with Yayasan Ihtimam Malaysia.
The application included an e-book that referred to a real-life experience of a homosexual man who has since repented and left the LGBTQ world, as well as videos on lectures about LGBTQ, feedback, prayers and papers regarding the view of the LGBTQ from Islam’s perspective.
The app has since been removed from the Google Play store, after it was found to be in breach of the platform’s guidelines.
Google said in a statement, “Whenever an app is flagged to us, we investigate against our Play store policies and if violations are found we take appropriate action to maintain a trusted experience for all.”
Its guidelines do not allow apps “that attempt to deceive users or enable dishonest behaviour including but not limited to apps which are determined to be functionally impossible.”
Malaysia’s Islamic development department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher, said such material was dangerous and hateful.
“Conversion therapy is a deeply discriminatory and harmful practice which can cause long-lasting damage to those who are subject to it. It has been criminalised in many countries. We call on the Malaysian authorities to immediately abandon its use of Hijrah Diri, and instead ensure respect and protect LGBTQ rights in the country,” she said.
Numan Afifi, the founder of LGBT+ rights group Pelangi Campaign, said Google and other platforms should improve the moderation of content they host on their platforms.
Community groups that try to counter harmful material already face an uphill battle, he added, including the risk of surveillance, censorship and raids on in-person gatherings.
“Now that the general election is looming I am pretty sure that the demonisation of the LGBT community is going to get more intense, especially among those who are trying to [win] conservative votes,” he said.
Malaysia’s LGBTQ community faces widespread discrimination, including laws that ban same-sex relations and non-normative gender expression. Let’s all hope this is a step in the right direction for us to have a more inclusive country for all to live in.