A camp set up to correct the effeminate behaviour of Muslim schoolboys violates the law and should be abolished, says Malaysia’s women’s minister. Sixty-six schoolboys identified by teachers as effeminate began counselling this week to discourage them from being gay. They are undergoing four days of religious and physical education. An education official said the camp was meant to guide the boys back "to a proper path in life".

But the women’s minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, said singling out these children based on perceived feminine mannerisms was traumatising and harmful to their mental health. The camp violates the Child Act, which protects children without prejudice, she said.

Gay rights groups have also criticised the measure, saying it promotes homophobia in the Muslim-majority country where gay sex is still illegal. The schoolboys allegedly displayed "feminine mannerisms" – though educators in the conservative state of Terengganu did not detail what they were. State officials say that, if left unchecked, the students – aged between 13 and 17 – could end up gay or transsexual. Read more…