We told you yesterday about Malaysian teachers identifying 66 effeminate boys who are presumed to be gay, and then sending them to a camp for masculinizing therapy. Today Malaysian Women’s Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, is speaking out against the institutionalized homophobia.
Rightly accusing the masculinization camp of being traumatic and harmful to the boys’ mental health, Jalil also points out that the entire ordeal is illegal. Malaysia’s Child Act exists to protect children from the very prejudice on display in this case.
State officials have made the insane defense that if left uncorrected, the feminine mannerisms the 66 boys in question display could develop into homosexuality or trans-sexuality. Except that’s not how being gay or trans works.
Terengganu state’s education director, Razali Daud, said the students were invited to join the camp and were not compelled to do so.
“As educators, we have to do something about it before the young ones misunderstand people and reach the point of no return,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
Mr Razali says although homosexuals and transvestites exist in Malaysia, the authorities want to limit their number.
Gay sex is illegal in Malaysia, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim nation, and many extremists denounce homosexuality as immoral. Before you go throwing stones at Islam, let’s not forget how Christians in the United States often treat gays.
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality said “corrective boot camps” violate the rights of people who are perceived as different.
“It should be strongly opposed and challenged as it promotes homophobia and prejudice,” the group said in a statement.
“We should send a clear message to institutions that they have no business meddling with an individual’s identity and personal preference.”
A campaigner for sexual rights, Pang Khee Teik, described the camp as outrageous and an example of homophobia.
“All the students will learn from these camps is that they are expected to behave a certain way,” said Mr Pang, co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka.
“And in order to avoid further ridicule, perhaps they will learn to pretend better. In the end, we are only teaching them how to be a hypocrite.”
Ugh. Those poor boys! I went to an emotionally scarring camp as a child myself…Asthma Camp. Oh gosh, was it awful. Inhaler breaks every twenty minutes and not enough power strips in the world to plug in everyone’s Pulmo-Aid breathing machines.
Actually, tangent here – I hated Asthma Camp so much that I convinced my childhood BFF Chuckie to join me one summer to help me make it through. Chuck only pretended to have asthma in order to accompany me, a charade that went up in flames the day of the Asthma Olympics when he managed to win every single event besides fishing. A mob of angry children tried catching and dragging him out into the camp square, but again, inhalers. On the plus side, I learned how to make a loincloth. True story!
But the Malaysian kids clearly have it worse. Asthma you grow out of. Gayness you grow into. And I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to maintain some personal dignity when your schoolteacher is handing you over to the government for being a sissy. There’s no bouncing back from this for these kids. They’ve been pegged as potential homos in a country that jails gays for their sex lives.
This camp, and those who are persecuting the shit out of these young boys, are dangerous and clearly unfit to have children anywhere near them. Here’s hoping that the Women’s Minister will be able to put a legal hurting on the folks in charge of this scheme.