Youth Voices Count, a regional network of young LGBTQ+ people in Asia and the Pacific, representing members from 22 countries with over 190 members along with PELANGI – Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative strongly renounces the invitation which was made by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health to develop videos under the theme of “preventing” homosexuality and on “issues and consequences” resulting from certain sexual orientations.
On the Ministry of Health’s website, individuals were invited to submit a video clip for categories including “gender identity disorder,” containing suggestions as to “prevention, control and how to get help”. It cited gay, lesbian and transsexual people, as well as tomboys, as examples of what the ministry calls a “disorder”.
While we recognize, acknowledge and applaud the positive steps taken by the Ministry of Health to rectify this mistake, we hope that this won’t happen in the future since it will undermine the rights of every single LGBTQ+ individual of Malaysia.
This is not an isolated event that threatens the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer identified individuals in Malaysia. In 2012, the Ministry of Education of Malaysia published “guidelines” to help parents identify gay and lesbian “symptoms” in their children. During a seminar organized in Penag to launch these guidelines Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said not many people understood or knew the early “symptoms” of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender inclinations to prevent its spread.
Medical practitioners, psychologists and psychiatrists and their respective associations, based on empirical scientific evidence do not consider homosexuality as an illness or a pathological condition. The following non-exhaustive list of medical, psychological and psychiatric institutions and associations have all issued statements confirming that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality and is not a mental or physical illness and that any practices claiming to cure homosexuality is dangerous and places the mental and physical safety of patients at risk.
1.World Health Organization
2.All India Institute of Medical Sciences
3.American Psychiatric Association
4.American Psychological Association
5.Indian Journal on Medical Ethics
6.Indian Psychiatrists Association Journal
7.Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK
8.UK Associations on Psychology and Psychiatrists Joint Statement on Conversion Therapy
9.World Psychiatric Association
10.Indian Psychiatric Association
11.Chinese Psychiatric Association
Internationally, including within Asia and the Pacific, trans people, supported by many health professionals, are strongly advocating for trans health needs to no longer defined by a mental health diagnosis. This is sometimes referred to as “de-psychopathologisation.”
In May 2010, the WPATH Board of Directors issued the following statement urging the de-psychopathologisation of gender variance worldwide” (WPATH Board of Directors, 2010).
“The expression of gender characteristics, including identities that are not stereotypically associated with one’s assigned sex at birth, is a common and culturally diverse human phenomenon which should not be judged as inherently pathological or negative. The psychopathologisation of gender characteristics and identities reinforces or can prompt stigma, making prejudice and discrimination more likely, rendering transgender and transsexual people vulnerable to social and legal marginalisation and exclusion, and increasing risks to their mental and physical well- being. WPATH urges governmental and medical professional organizations to review their policies and practices to eliminate stigma toward gender-variant people”.
Regionally, in 2011, the Psychological Association of the Philippines spoke out in favour of “global initiatives to remove the stigma of mental illness” that long has been associated with trans and LGB people (UNDP and USAID, 2014f ).
As the first and only regional network of young LGBTQ+ people in Asia and the Pacific we urge the government of Malaysia to not reduce a natural variant of human sexuality and gender expression to a negative medical condition in the future.
Such state sponsored efforts clearly encourages widespread stigma, discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer identified individuals in Malaysia who are already discriminated by existing laws in the country. The impact of such efforts also affect the mental and physical well being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer identified individuals in Malaysia and has a larger impact on the young cohorts of these communities.
We call upon all the LGBT organizations, Human Rights Organizations and defenders, UN Agencies and allies to come together to stand with the LGBTQ communities in Malaysia and to press the Government of Malaysia to abide by the international Human Rights standards to protect and ensure the rights of every single Malaysian LGBTQ citizen.
For more information
Youth Voices Count