Malaysian University’s Forum To Convert ‘LGBT’ Students Receives Backlash

Malaysian University’s Forum To Convert ‘LGBT’ Students Receives Backlash

There is nothing more traumatizing than going through treatment to change your identity. Keep in mind, this is not a treatment for one’s betterment but something that aims at changing your sexual orientation and gender identity only based on what is “correct” or “normal” according to society.

Aversion Therapy or Conversion therapy is a form of psychotherapy to change or convert LGBTQIA individuals orientation to heterosexual. This has a long track record of not working and has revealed some evidence that gay conversion therapies increased the risk of negative outcomes, including loss of sexual feeling, anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings according to a review of the scientific literature published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said in a statement.

The former President of the United States, Barak Obama had proposed a national ban on all such conversion therapies called Leelah’s Law, was named after a transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide in December 2014 after receiving treatment from therapists she said were biased and hostile toward her identity.

Despite having such harmful effects on the young LGBT individuals, recently a Malaysian university conducted a  forum to “convert” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. This initiative received backlash from Malaysian rights activists.

Media reported, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Muslim Students Association held the forum last month.

The association confirmed that it held the forum in a post on its Facebook page last month, saying it wanted to stop the spread of “LGBT culture” in Malaysia, which went against Islamic principles.


Thilaga Sulathireh, from the transgender rights group Justice for Sisters, said the university forum would incite prejudice and was not an isolated case.

“The messaging was that LGBT people can be changed and LGBT is a form of sickness. That is harmful, when you tell them LGBT is a form of sickness, it adds to the prejudice that LGBT people face,” Sulathireh said.


Homosexual sex is against the law in Malaysia, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and caning.

The forum organisers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last year, the health ministry planned a contest for teenagers to come up with ideas on how to “prevent” homosexuality and transgenderism, sparking criticism from activists, resulting in a change in the plan. In 2012, authorities issued guidelines and held seminars aimed at helping teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children.

When are we going progress as a society if harmful practices like this keep continuing? People have the right to be themselves without being subjected to aversion therapies to change their identity based on someone else’s beliefs. We need to stand with another, support each other rather than tear someone down just for being themselves or expressing who they are.

By Shreyanka Thejaswi 

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