An app by the Malaysian government which claims to help LGBT people "return to nature" has been removed by Google Play.
According to The Guardian, the conversion therapy app was found to be in breach of Google Play's guidelines on the grounds of either attempting "to deceive users or enable dishonest behaviour".
Google was quoted as saying:
"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."
App gained prominence after it was promoted by JAKIM on social media
While the app has been around since 2016, it gained prominence after it was promoted by Malaysia's Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) on social media in a tweet on Mar. 9.
Apart from claiming that the app would help LGBT return to "a state of purity", JAKIM also said that the app included an e-book detailing the experience of a man who "abandoned homosexual behaviour" during Ramadan.
Aplikasi ini mengandungi ebook yang merujuk kepada pengalaman benar seorang gay yang berhijrah pada bulan Ramadhan untuk meninggalkan perlakuan homoseksual.— JAKIM (@MyJAKIM) March 9, 2022
The Guardian further reported that a similar app from a U.S.-based group known as Living Hope Ministries was also removed from Google Play in 2019.
That app had suggested that users could "pray the gay away".
Malaysia looking at changing the lifestyle and sexual orientation of the LGBT community
JAKIM's promotion of the app is part of a wider effort by the Malaysian government which has consistently maintained that the lifestyle and sexual orientation of the LGBT community must be changed.
In September 2021, Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob revealed that as of June 2021, 1,733 Malaysians from the LGBT community have been sent to a rehabilitation camp run by JAKIM, known as the Mukhayyam programme.
There, they are taught about religion, health, HIV and AIDS by JAKIM, through a programme which is a "collaboration" between multiple state Islamic departments, the Health Ministry, state religious councils and the zakat (almsgiving) authorities.
Ismail Sabri highlighted, "The government is serious about the issue of LGBT people in the country as Malaysia is a country that adheres to the religion of Islam."
He added, "Any individual who violates the law must face action. Nevertheless, at the same time, they need to be guided and be made aware so that they can return to the right path."
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Top collage left photo via JAKIM Twitter, right photo via The LGBT Community Centre in Malaysia Facebook