In an event that screams PROBLEMATIC, this week about sixty adolescent Malaysian boys deemed as too effeminate went to counseling to make sure they don’t become gay. At the “camp,” which ended today, the boys visited mosques and engaged in aerobic activities. The director of the department of education, Razali Daud, commented:
The severity of the symptoms vary, but the 66 schoolboys were showing behaviours that is [sic] not usually displayed by a normal male of their age… As educators, we have to do something about it before the young ones misunderstand people and reach the point of no return…We are not intervening with the process of nature as we are merely trying to guide these students to a proper path in life.
This story was originally broken by the aptly titled Malaysian paper New Straits Times on Monday in an article called “Besut boot camp for 66 sissies” (Beset is the city where the camp was located). It quickly made international news after a host of gay rights activists pointed out how terrible the whole thing is (although it doesn’t seem like one needs to be an activist to see that).
As a result of all the press, The New Straits Times posted another article yesterday alleging that the camp had nothing to do with the boy’s sexuality. Daud was quoted again. He explained:
This is a character-building programme. We hope the students will emerge stronger, physically and mentally, after attending the camp. This is also the first of many series in the programme. The first batch is made up of boys, aged between 13 and 17, who happen to display some feminine characteristics.
According to Daud, the boys at the camp were good at singing, dancing, and acting.
If Daud’s defense of the camp wasn’t already suspect, the fact that Malyasia’s Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has called for it and others like it to be stopped goes to show that the camp was founded on questionable, if not outright offensive, grounds.