In the Malaysian parliament yesterday an MP called for the government to set up a rehabilitation center to ‘combat’ homosexuality.
‘We have to find a solution to combat these activities from getting rampant just like the efforts we take to combat drugs,’ Datuk Baharum Mohamad said, according to The Malaysian Insider.
Baharum also cited an unnamed study that found 30% of Malaysian men are gay. ‘A study has found that, right now, three out of 10 men in Malaysia are gay. This is scary,’ he said.
Earlier this month in an interview published in Utusan, the most popular Malaysian language daily newspaper in the country, Hushim Salleh, a counselor who claims to have ‘reversed’ 1,000 gay people, said:
‘These last five years I have found that gays and bisexuals are increasing in numbers and according to their admission, they claim that out of 10 men in urban areas, three are gay.’
This suggests the MP acquired his figures, and his homophobic rhetoric from the extensive interview, during which Hushim pleaded with the government to address what he sees as a ‘disease’ that will ‘destroy’ Malaysia. He said:
‘They [gay people] could be anyone whether politicians, professionals or students… If the government agrees to the demands of LGBT groups, our country will be destroyed and it is possible that one day our Prime Minister may be a gay.’
Hushim agreed to a question from the journalist suggesting a ‘drug rehabilitation center’ for gay people, saying: ‘I support the establishment of such centers and the government must do. If we do not handle this situation, Allah will do something terrible.’
Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of the Seksualiti Merdeka sexualities festival that was banned earlier this year, tweeted that the counselor, politician and journalist are all ‘idiots’.
Pang told Gay Star News that it is not the first time the idea of gay rehab centres has been mooted in Malaysia. ‘In fact over the last few years, camps have been conducted specifically for non-gender-conforming men in government run tertiary institutions, and last year, infamously, for secondary school teenagers,’ he said.
Pang said the fact that Malaysian LGBT teenagers survive ‘the discrimination, bullying and marginalisation’ in school is ‘testament to their tenacity and intelligence’.
‘Why can’t we focus on teaching people how to be proud of what they contribute to the world?’ Pang asked. ‘LGBT Malaysians have much to teach Malaysians to be proud of our own uniqueness and of the diversity that we each bring to the community.’
Following the failure of the repeal of last year’s ban on Malaysia’s Seksualiti Merderka, Pang is now working on providing educational ‘sensitisation workshops for anyone who wants to understand sexual orientation and gender identities better’. The workshops will use ‘the latest studies, human rights principles and scientific knowledge,’ he says.