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Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister says LGBT people need counseling

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister says LGBT people need counseling

The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia told a national counseling conference yesterday that the profession was needed to 'curb' the 'spread' of LGBT groups.

'The symptoms of sexual orientation disorder like LGBT, which was previously faced by the Western society are now faced in our society also,' said Deputy PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the opening speech of the four-day conference. 'I believe that through an effective counseling approach, we will be able to curb this negative phenomenon from spreading in our community.'

Muhyiddin, who is Education Minister, also emphasised the role that school counselors have to play in this issue. He pledged RM100,000 (Malaysian Ringnet, $32,680, €24,860) to the Malaysian International Counseling Association and said that counseling skills needed to be improved 'for those faced with sexuality problems which threatens the integrity of the family institution'.

Christine Forte, a Shanghai-based counselor who specialises in therapy for LGBT clients says that according to the American Counseling Association's code of ethics, it is unethical for a counselor to impose his or her personal beliefs upon the client.

Forte says: 'Counselors must also avoid imposing beliefs that are inconsistent with the goal of therapy. As homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder by any major health organization, there is no reason for the counselor to have the goal of encouraging clients not to be LGBT. Furthermore, this kind of instruction implies that it is even possible to change one's sexuality by force of will, which according to western medical research, it is not. There is also the ethical obligation for counselors to not engage in behavior that would do harm to a client. Rejection or condemnation of a client's sexuality and thus identity, are very damaging to psychological well-being.'

The Deputy PM's speech is the latests in a series of state-sanctioned homophobic iniatives. Two weeks ago an MP called for gay 'rehab' centres to be set up to 'combat' homosexuality. In response to that, an in-depth article in Free Malaysia Today called for Malaysians to 'Stop the homosexual witch-hunt'.

In that Free Malaysia Today article gay rights campaigner Pang Khee Teik listed 12 things that the campign against the gays would 'achieve' from 'severe low self-esteem and depression among LGBT youths' to 'driving further brain drain away from Malaysia'.

Pang also published a blog post earlier this week responding to claims within the community that fighting for their rights was bringing too much attention to gay people who wish to quietly live their lives. He responded with a call to arms for LGBT people in Malaysia to fight against discrimination, saying 'silence is what feeds the beast of oppression'.

Watch an interview with Pang here: