Malaysian gay conversion app that promised ‘return to nature’ removed from Google Play store

Malaysian government’s app taken down for violating guidelines

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 18 March 2022 18:28 GMT
Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation
Conversion therapy seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation (PA Archive)

An anti-LGBTQ+ app developed by the Malaysian government to help the queer community “return to the right path” has been removed from the Google Play store after six years.

The app “Hijrah Diri”, launched in 2016, was taken down by Google after it was found violating the platform's guidelines.

The gay conversion app drew large criticism after the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) endorsed it on Twitter earlier this month. Jakim’s anti-LGBT officer Mohd Izwan Md Yusof had reportedly asked fellow Muslims to rate the app with five stars to counter negative reviews.

Malaysian authorities falsely claimed that it would aid members of the LGBTQ+ community to change their sexual orientation with the help of an ebook that detailed the “true experience of a gay man who migrated during Ramadan to abandon homosexual behaviour”.

“Whenever an app is flagged to us, we investigate against our Play store policies and if violations are found we take appropriate action to maintain a trusted experience for all,” Google said in a statement to The Guardian.

It added that the platform's guidelines do not allow apps “that attempt to deceive users or enable dishonest behaviour including but not limited to apps which are determined to be functionally impossible”.

The 146-page e-book, written by an anonymous man, who claimed to be a convert, was originally published in 2011 during the Barisan Nasional administration.

In Malaysia, LGBTQ+ rights are largely unrecognised and sodomy is criminalised with up to 20 years in prison and mandatory whipping under a colonial-era law.

The Malaysian government is known to weaponise conversation therapy to crackdown on members of the LGBTQ+ community.

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