Malaysian authorities this week said they have sent 66 boys between the ages of 13 and 17 who were identified by teachers as being effeminate, on a so-called “self-development” course designed to make them learn more masculine behavior and prevent them from becoming gay or transgender.
The boys between 13 and 17 years old reported Monday for what is officially being called a “self-development course” after their schoolteachers in Terengganu state identified them as students who displayed effeminate mannerisms, said Razali Daud, the state’s education director.
They will undergo religious and motivational classes and physical guidance, Razali said. He declined to give further details.
The camp is meant “to guide them back to the right path in life before they reach a point of no return,” Razali told The Associated Press. “Such effeminate behaviour is unnatural and will affect their studies and their future.”
Razali told the Associated Press that the boys were not made to go to the camp but rather chose to do so. Given that Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, criminalizes homosexuality with up to 20 years in prison this would not seem much of a choice, even if the statute is not uniformly enforced. Transgender people can also be prosecuted under laws that would restrict apparent gender non-conforming behavior.
Razali added: “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.”
Many gay “cure” programs exist in America under the guise of religious counseling, several of which recommend practicing masculinity alongside aversion therapy as a way to prevent the so-called gender confusion that they say leads to homosexuality.
Needless to say, the results of such courses remain negligible at best and at worst supremely damaging to the children involved, a chief reason why the mainstream medical community has soundly rejected gay “cure” or “reorientation” therapy as it is sometimes known.
That local officials are peddling this kind of bad science fails children in so many respects it is truly heartbreaking. One wonders if the state will also be so kind as to provide the necessary counseling once these young men grow up and begin to live their lives with the scars of the “cure” therapy still haunting them? That was, of course, a rhetorical question.
UPDATE: The Malaysian women’s minister has condemned the move by local officials, saying that it violates child welfare laws and is illegal. Read more here.