A Malaysian university has come under fire for running a competition for students to try and “convert” gay classmates.
The Muslim Students’ Association at the Universiti Sains Malaysia, located on the island of Penang, ran the competition with the approval of university authorities.
Posters for the competition, which was designed to ‘help’ LGBT students who have “disorders in sexual orientation to return to their natural instincts”, featured the Malaysian Department of Education’s seal.
Participants were invited to submit a poster or short video under with the theme of “Help the LGBT groups”, with the winnin entry getting published on the university’s website.
One of the competition’s organiser, second-year English student Abdul Hadi Radzi, told NBC News that they created the competition to “reach out to LGBT people”.
He said: “We are trying to educate people. This is our view to correct LGBT. Not to persecute. Not to condemn them.
“The LGBT community is brave enough to do their programs openly. We don’t want more people to get involved with them.”
Malaysian trans advocacy group Justice for Sisters said they were “extremely concerned by the overall harmful impact” of the competition.
A spokesperson said: “Such programmes create a toxic and unsafe environment for all students and staff, LGBTI and gender diverse persons in particular, and run counter to the aim of such institutions that are supposed to provide an open learning environment for all.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and the LGBT community faces widespread violence and persecution.
The news comes just two months after a Malaysian newspaper published a ‘checklist’ of ways to supposedly identify gay and lesbian people.