LGBT Activists in Malaysia are outraged by a plan by the government to operate a conversion therapy clinic that would “cure” transgender women. The program would be offered in the new year, after authorities in the Muslim-majority country conducted a survey of Malaysia’s trans population.
“Transgender women are part of our society… They are our responsibility,” Ghazali Taib, a council member in Terengganu, told Agence France-Presse. “In the end, it’s up to them to make a choice—the government’s plan is not to force anyone [but to] give them a path to make the best choices for their lives.”
Transgender people in Malaysia routinely face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, extortion, discrimination, and other abuses. Many are left with no options for employment beyond sex work.
“Corrective therapy… violates everyone’s rights in so many ways,” said leading transgender advocate Nisha Ayub. She added that women who are not changed by the clinic “will feel like outcasts from society.”
In June health authorities in the country launched a competition for ways to “prevent” people from becoming gay or transgender. (The winning entry receives a $900 cash prize.)
While sharia law forbids cross-dressing, there have been several successful judicial appeals: In August 2016, the country’s high court ordered the National Registration Department to update a trans man’s identity card to reflect his gender identity and chosen name.
“The plaintiff has a precious constitutional right to life,” the judge ruled, “and the concept of life under Article 5 must necessarily encompass the plaintiff’s right to live with dignity as a man.”