The Terangannu Education Department sent 66 carefully vetted boys to a government "reeducation camp". This is creepy even when you don't know what the camp is for. The boys were selected from schools all over Terangannu (by the school officials) for their "effeminate" qualities. They were sent to the four-day camp for training. On how to be more masculine. How to behave "in a proper manner".
Razali Daud, the department director, said that this was the first training camp of its kind - meaning, there will be more, please barf on your own shoes - and that as educators it's department's responsibility to ensure that the boys be retrained before they reach the point of "no return" and are irrevocably set on a course of "misunderstanding" (normal) people.
The retraining is aims specifically at minimising the number of people who will be homosexual or transgendered.
No, really. Read the article at the New Straits Times (Malaysia's oldest newspaper still in print, and their largest English-language daily):
Must be a nice boot camp, to provide "mere guidance" alongside the "process of nature".
This action has received furious opposition within the country. The central Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has declared that the camps contravene the nation's 2001 Child Act, since they are harmful and against the best interest of the children.
The Joint Action Group for gender equality is a coalition of various Malaysian groups, and they have also given clear statements condemning this selection and "retraining". This discrimination contravenes UNICEF's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Malaysia ratified in 1995.
- These boys are being forced to toe a line of "masculine" behaviour
- They are now taught that the way they are is "wrong"
- The boys who were not selected are taught that their peers and friends are "wrong"
- Girls are shown, implicitly, that there are certain behaviours that are "theirs" alone.
- Girls could be next. In fact, they almost definitely will be.
- Boys and girls are told explicitly that transgenderism, transvestism, homosexuality and other forms of sexual and gender queerness are frowned upon by the government, and the government will take action to make sure that these facets of personality are indoctrinated out of them.
- Gender boot camp.
- The Malaysian education departments are so far ignoring all protests - even when some of those protests are from other arms of the government.
All Out - an organisation commited to global LGBT-assorted identity equality - it organising a petition. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will be at the next ASEAN Summit on the 6th of May. Sign this petition, which can then be presented to Razak as proof that these actions are not acceptable, at home or internationally.
There's less than a week to collect the required number of signatures, and I'm not sure if a PM who has ignored internal conflict over the treatment of national citizens will give a damn about international concerns unless those concerns are backed by hard, economic penalties.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. It's currently allowed in India (cross your fingers and pray for the Supreme Court battle to end sensibly!) but I still shudder. It doesn't seem like so alien a horror.