PETALING JAYA: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) recently held a contest on how to convert lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in what organisers said was an attempt to “reach out” to the community.
According to NBC News, the contest which included the creation of posters was part of a forum called “Back to Fitrah”. The forum, held on March 24, was organised by the Muslim Students’ Association and formally approved by USM.
The report said posters for the event also included the logo for the higher education ministry.
Second-year student Abdul Hadi Radzi, who was one of the contest organisers, said the goal was to educate people.
“This is our view to correct LGBT. Not to persecute. Not to condemn them,” he told NBC.
“We want to help. We love them.”
Meanwhile, biology student Fatimah Jamaludin whose poster won a prize in the contest, said she wanted to have a better understanding of her LGBT peers to help them feel peace.
“One thing that you can do to make your heart feel calm is to say ‘thanks to Allah, Allahu akbar, Allah is great’, and that will make you feel peace,” she was quoted as saying.
The USM contest follows a similar competition organised by the health ministry last June.
The ministry’s contest had invited participants to submit video clips on how to “prevent” homosexuality and transgenderism.
The contest guidelines added that the videos must include elements showing the “consequences” of being LGBT, as well as how to “prevent, control and seek help” for them.
It described gender identity disorder, also known as gender dysphoria, and cited examples of people who are gay, lesbian, transsexual and tomboys.
The competition sparked criticism from activists who said it was encouraging discrimination and sending a negative message to society.
The ministry later amended the guidelines, removing the terms “gender confusion” and “LGBT”.
Health deputy director-general Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said the contest was meant to help enhance the knowledge and practice of healthy lifestyles among adolescents concerning sexual and reproductive health.
He added that the video competition did not intend to create discrimination against any particular group.
In 2012, meanwhile, authorities issued guidelines and held seminars aimed at helping teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children.
In 2011, authorities in Terengganu organised a camp for “effeminate” boys to show them how to become men.
Homosexuality is taboo in Malaysia, where gay sex is criminalised, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, caning or a fine.