JAKIM Updates Gay Conversion App That Used To Have a Grindr Feature To Return To The “Correct” Ways

Malaysia A LGBT pride flag flies at the women's march in Malaysia on March 9.

It’s no secret that Malaysia – or the Malaysian government, to be specific – has a strong stance against any orientation that can be placed under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

Being a majority Muslim country, there’s been lots of well-documented activity detailing attempts to quash homosexual behaviour and non-binary views in the country, especially within the Islamic community.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) has just re-released their smartphone app designed specifically to convert Malaysian Muslims who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to return to the ‘correct’ ways as taught in Islamic scripture.

According to its description on Google’s app store, it includes “suggestions, ideas, explanations and interpretations” to help users “overcome the problem of homosexuality”.

The app also contains an e-book by an “ex-gay” Muslim man, in which he describes how he “is confronted with some of the things that provoke him to commit this sin, and how to bear the burden of having committed same-sex sins in the past”.

The Google Play Store rating for the app is “E”, which according to Google means the app is “suitable for all ages”.

The more humouring part of this is that back in 2017, the app was launched for the same purpose, only with a function we’re all familiar with – it inexplicably has a feature that lets you find gays near you.

Among other things, the app then offered strategies to overcome your homosexuality with features for you to reach out to them for help, and a chat function… which included a map showing the exact locations of people who used the app.

The newer version of the app no longer shows other users’ locations… but it still asks for your location for some reason, right after logging in.

Still, the selling point for the app this time – as mentioned in JAKIM’s FB post – is a 148-page e-book that contains “the true experiences of a gay who started his journey to leave homosexuality during Ramadan.”

Some of the strategies put forth in the book include fasting, using anger to fix your gay daily regime, a collection of prayers and lessons, physical reminders to stop masturbating, and using negative motivation to suppress the gay, like by visiting graveyards to remind yourself the impermanence of life and reflect on how you’ve been using your time.

What’s even more concerning is the level of data the government app collects from users, in a country where gay sex is punishable with up to 20 years in prison and mandatory caning, according to Human Rights Watch. Vigilante executions and torture of LGBT+ people are not uncommon.

Idris Ahmad, the minister responsible for the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) which launched the app, announced just last year that he had set up a “task force” to strengthen laws against LGBT+ people.

“We need to strengthen existing laws, as LGBT activists and icons are promoting a toxic lifestyle openly through social media,” he said in January, 2021.

It seems far from a coincidence that the department’s conversion therapy app, according to the Google Play Store, has access to users’ identity, contacts, location, photos and media filed, camera, microphone and wifi connection information.

Announcing the app on Twitter, JAKIM said it would “help the LGBT community return to nature”.

The app has received significant backlash in its Google Play reviews but for now, remains available for download.

Google has been approached for a comment but has not responded at the time of writing.