PETALING JAYA: An LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activist wants the government to debunk the notion that members of the community suffer from mental health problems.
Thilaga Sulathireh, co-founder of Justice for Sisters, said the health ministry and other government agencies must take the lead in correcting this false perception.
She said the American Psychiatric Association had removed “homosexuality” from its list of mental disorders fifty years ago in 1973.
More recently, in 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental illnesses.
“It is important for the health ministry to debunk this notion,” said Thilaga.
“The misinformation that LGBT people have mental illnesses and can be rehabilitated creates a lot of fear and distrust in public institutions, including healthcare and the judicial system,” she said.
She also urged the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to eliminate discrimination against members of the LGBT community by fact-checking misinformation.
On Tuesday, PAS MP Jamaludin Yahya proposed that the government classify those in the LGBT community as people with mental health problems.
He said this when interjecting into a speech in the Dewan Rakyat by another PAS MP, Dr Halimah Ali, about proposed amendments to the Mental Health Act 2001.
Halimah agreed for the matter to be included as part of her debate.
Another LGBT activist, Nisha Ayub, urged politicians to stop taking advantage of the community for political mileage.
“The problem is with them, not us, a community that does not harm anyone,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pertubuhan Kesihatan dan Kebajikan Umum Malaysia (PKKUM) founder Elisha Kor Krishnan called on the Dewan Rakyat to help change the stigma surrounding the LGBT community.
“(It should) ensure all mental health and allied health training curricula incorporate knowledge on human rights and the LGBT community,” she said, calling on concerned parties to hold a dialogue to discuss and lay to rest the “mentally ill” notion.