Last week, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) had promoted an app called “Hijrah Diri – Homoseksuality” which claims to provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to return to Fitrah (state of purity). It appears that the app has caught wide attention prompting Google to take down the app after it was flagged by users.
According to The Guardian, the Hijrah Diri app was removed from Google Play Store as it was found to be in breach of the platform’s guidelines. Google said their guidelines do not allow apps “that attempt to deceive users or enable dishonest behavior including but not limited to apps which are determined to be functionally impossible.”
It was reported that the app has been around since 2016 but it was only removed now due to the recent attention. The app contained a 146-page eBook detailing the experience of an anonymous former gay person who “converted” during Ramadhan.
Before the app was pulled down, RAXBIT, the developer of the JAKIM app have complained about the app being flagged. Some even called for others to support the app by giving it a 5-star rating to counter the barrage of low score reviews by external parties.
According to Malay Mail, the eBook was published back in 2011 during the Barisan Nasional administration, and it was even mentioned in Parliament in October 2018 by the Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa. The eBook is seen as one of several state-sponsored anti-LGBT programmes launched by the government since 2011 that are focused on the rehabilitation and conversion of LGBT persons.
Conversion therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is widely seen by the medical and scientific community as a potentially harmful and a form of pseudoscience. Malay Mail reports that the practice is opposed and has been legally challenged, or even banned, in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Israel, Lebanon, Malta, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.