Malaysia's anti-gay camp should be abolished, says minister



Pedestrians walk past a billboard displaying the Kuala Lumpur skyline with the landmark Petronas Twin Towers (R) and the KL Tower (L) in downtown Kuala Lumpur, January 3, 2008.


Tengku Bahar


Efforts by Malaysian authorities to send boys to an anti-gay camp to teach them how to be masculine is against the law, and the camp should be abolished, according to a minister.

Malaysian authorities reportedly sent 66 boys suspected of having gay leanings to a masculinity camp, an official announced Tuesday.

Teachers in the east Malaysian state of Terengganu identified boys between the ages of 13 and 17 who displayed effeminate mannerisms and sent them to a four-day camp for counseling on how to act masculine, the Associate Press reports.

The "self-development course" will include religious, motivational and physical classes, it states.

The purpose of the camp is "to guide them back to the right path in life before they reach a point of no return," Razali Daud, the state's education director, told the AP.  "Such effeminate behavior is unnatural and will affect their studies and their future."

"It is not an overnight cure," he continued. "We can't force the boys to change, but we want them to know what their choices are in life. Some effeminate boys end up as a transvestite or a homosexual, but we want to do our best to limit this."

Malaysia's women's minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, told BBC that the camp violates the Child Act, which protects children without prejudice, and that sending the boys to this camp may traumatize them.

The camp is the first of its kind in the Malaysian state, the Indian Express reports.

Gay rights are not recognized in Malaysia and acts such as sodomy are illegal.