Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister has said that LGBT people suffer from an “organic disorder.”
Dr Lee Boon Chye’s comments come as queer people in the country are forced to deal with a drastic upsurge in anti-LGBT+ sentiment.
Religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa attracted global attention earlier this month when he ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.
Speaking about the controversy, he said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”
In the latest example of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric from a government figure, the Deputy Health Minister denied that people are queer because they are mentally ill, instead pushing the idea that LGBT+ people are inherently different.
In response to a question from MP Ahmad Amzad Mohamed Hashim, he said that rather than suffering from mental health issues, LGBT+ have something physically wrong with their brains.
“If you look at magnetic resonance imaging scans of the human brain, you can see certain physical differences in the brain that causes them to behave as such,” he said.
Yesterday (August 12), Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mahfuz Omar has said LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” and that allowing people to be trans would cause chaos in society.
Two women in the country have also been sentenced to six lashings each after being arrested for having sex with each other.
Gay sex is banned in the country, which groups it together with bestiality in a list of offences which are “against the order of nature.”
The women, who are 32 and 22, pleaded guilty after sharia enforcement officials in the northeastern state of Terengganu found them having sex in a car with a dildo.
They have also been fined RM3,300 (£630) each, and told that they will face a four-month prison term if they fail to pay.
In April, a Malaysian university held a contest to convert gay students.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia, based on the island of Penang, advertised the competition as “a campaign to invite friends who have [a] disorder in [their] sexual orientation to return to their natural nature in a worthwhile way.”
This came just two months after a newspaper in the country published a checklist which provided guidance about “how to spot a gay”.
Leading outlet Sinar Harian listed traits held by gay men such as a love of beards, branded clothing and going to the gym – although not for the purpose of exercise, but to pull other men.
The list also said that it was a telltale sign of gay men if their eyes lit up when they saw men who they found to be attractive.