Science and Tech

Cruel conversion therapy app ‘suitable for all ages’ available on Google Play Store

Lily Wakefield March 13, 2022
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Malaysia A LGBT pride flag flies at the women's march in Malaysia on March 9.

A LGBT pride flag flies at the women's march Malaysia in March, 2019. (sumishanaidu/Twitter)

Malaysia’s government has launched a conversion therapy app to help LGBT+ people “return to nature” – and it’s being platformed by Google.

The app, Hijrah Diri Homoseksualiti, was released by Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), and is currently available from the Google Play Store.

According to its description on Google’s app store, it includes “suggestions, ideas, explanations and interpretations” to help users “overcome the problem of homosexuality”.

The app also contains an e-book by an “ex-gay” Muslim man, in which he describes how he “is confronted with some of the things that provoke him to commit this sin, and how to bear the burden of having committed same-sex sins in the past”.

The Good Play Store rating for the app is “E”, which according to Google means the app is “suitable for all ages”.

(Google Play)

LGBT+ people in Malaysia face execution, torture and decades in prison

Even more concerning is the level of data the government app collects from users, in a country where gay sex is punishable with up to 20 years in prison and mandatory caning, according to Human Rights Watch. Vigilante executions and torture of LGBT+ people are not uncommon.

Idris Ahmad, the minister responsible for the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) which launched the app, announced just last year that he had set up a “task force” to strengthen laws against LGBT+ people.

“We need to strengthen existing laws, as LGBT activists and icons are promoting a toxic lifestyle openly through social media,” he said in January, 2021.

“It must be done in an effort to prevent the normalisation of LGBT from becoming a culture in our society that can lead to the collapse of the family institution.”

So, it seems far from a coincidence that the department’s conversion therapy app, according to the Google Play Store, has access to users’ identity, contacts, location, photos and media filed, camera, microphone and wifi connection information.

Announcing the app on Twitter, JAKIM said it would “help the LGBT community return to nature”.

The app has received significant backlash in its Google Play reviews, but at the time of writing remains available for download.

One reviewer asked: “Why does an e-book need to access location, storage, camera, microphone? You guys trying to track gay people?”

“This app is a government sponsored LGBT religious conversion therapy tool,” wrote another.

“I believe bigoted and hateful software such as this app has no place in the Google Play Store, or anywhere online.”

PinkNews has approached Google for comment, but has not received a response at the time of writing.

More: conversion therapy, Google

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