PETALING JAYA: Human rights activist Siti Kasim has criticised Jakim for suggesting a person’s sexual orientation can be changed with extensive religious training. She said it was trying to play God.
“I don’t understand these people,” she told FMT. “They should keep their religious or moral beliefs to themselves and just shut up. If people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are wrong, then let God punish them.”
Jakim recently released a three-minute video comparing sexual orientation with horse riding, saying that when a person realises he has a “different” sexual orientation and wishes to make a change, he should be given extensive training and guidance.
Siti said such an assumption was not backed by scientific evidence and therefore nonsensical.
“Jakim needs to catch up with the 21st century,” she said. “I feel sorry for them for thinking that sexual orientation can be changed.
“This is the problem we have with our religious authorities. They seem to think they know what is best for the people. It is time for them to learn to live in this century instead of trying to take us back to the Stone Age.”
In the video, Jakim said one should not be forced into repentance; rather, one must sincerely wish to change one’s sexual orientation for the sake of God.
A repentant homosexual is advised to fulfil his sexual desires through marriage or to subdue such desires by fasting and inculcating self-respect.
Siti said that if Jakim had made the effort to reach out to the LGBT community, it would have realised that homosexuals did not choose their sexual inclinations.
“If they put themselves in the shoes of these people, they will understand that it isn’t an easy life being constantly targeted and persecuted the moment you step out of the house.
“In fact, these people are not safe even in their own homes.”
The video, posted by social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi on his Facebook page, has garnered more than 14,000 views.
It has drawn a mixed reaction, with one Azira Aziz praising Jakim for addressing the LGBT community without hate.
“Congratulations to Jakim for producing a video without any element of hatred against the LGBT,” he wrote. “I hope it can remind its enforcement departments in every state to not be so rough with the LGBT community.”
Huda Mutalib was unimpressed. “It is very dangerous for them to encourage heterosexual marriage as a way to ‘fix’ a homosexual person.”
Suraya Ahmad expressed her amazement that Jakim had not criticised or suggested punishment for LGBT persons. “Good improvements on Jakim’s approach to the public. I foresee a promising future.”
Jakim indeed takes a soft approach in the video, telling Muslims to be patient with their homosexual friends.
“As long as your friends have the intention to change,” it says, “lead them back onto the straight road.”