Faith healers who try to cure ‘LGBT problems’ could be permitted in hospitals
Malaysia’s health ministry is permitting forms of so-called “spiritual healing” that practitioners claim can cure “LGBT problems”.
Under a policy on “traditional and complementary medicine”, Malaysian hospitals are allowed to offer a string of practices which are totally unproven and have no scientific basis.
These include massages, acupuncture and herbal therapy. But among the treatments available, derided in Western medicine as quack therapy, are some distinctly harmful practices.
The Malay Mail reports that psychiatrists and religious groups in the country are lobbying for the adoption of ‘Islamic psycho-spiritual therapy’.
Professor Azizan Baruddin, the director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia said: “Islamic psychospiritual therapy must prove itself capable to help in rehabilitating emotional disturbance, anxiety and depression.
“It must also prove itself capable in helping solve psychosis disorder, personality disorder, and problems involving the LGBT.”
Researchers have expressed concern at the lack of standards in the field.
Dr Zul Azlin Razal of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia admitted concerns with the lack of reliable research.
He said: “One researcher may formulate a model for therapy, but others do not wish to apply that model and test it with other populations.
“We don’t have randomised controlled trials. That’s what we don’t have,” Dr Zul Azlin said
“None of [the therapies] are valid, and none of them is reliable. At least so far. That is based on my rough observation.”
It is illegal to be gay in some parts of Malaysia, where Islamic law is strictly applied. Gay people can face harsh penalties and persecution.
The country’s attitude to LGBT issues was exemplified earlier this year when national film censors demanded a gay character be cut out of Disney film Beauty and the Beast.
The live-action remake is the first major Disney film to feature an unambiguously gay character, with Gaston’s sidekick LeFou shown dancing with a man near the end of the film.
After demands from the Malaysian Censorship Board, Disney pulled all screenings of the film rather than allow it to be cut down.
PinkNews revealed that the head of the body had spread overt misinformation about the film to Malaysian media, in order to justify the actions.
Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid had claimed: “The way he dances is… gay and the dialogue and the lyrics of the song are too.
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“In the same scene he also lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy.
“Even I wanted to bring my grandchildren to watch it… but there are rules. We don’t support LGBT.”
His claims were entirely false. There is no flashing of a love bite in the film, and Disney confirmed no such scene had ever been present.
In a piece published on PinkNews last month, a Malay academic explained: “Opposition to LGBT people is part of a larger framework of hostility towards and the policing of Malaysians who are considered immoral.
“Secular and religious police have raided hotels in search of unmarried Muslim couples who are considered guilty of khalwat – close proximity between unwedded people. And sex workers have been routinely rounded up and sent to police stations for illegal activities.”