Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Malaysia ships 66 children to ex-gay camp

As the following ugly incident demonstrates, our struggle isn't just about white gay men. It isn't about what's going on in New York or San Francisco. It isn't simply about marriage equality or DOMA or DADT or ENDA. It isn't simply about "tolerance" (I hate that word). The lgbt struggle for equality is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural universal struggle for basic dignity:

Malaysian authorities have admitted sending 66 teenage boys thought to be gay to a camp to learn “masculine behaviour”.

An official from Terengganu state said the boys, aged between 13 and 17, were identified by teachers as having effeminate mannerisms.

This week, they are being sent on a four-day “self-development course” in the hope of dissuading them from being gay or transgender.

State education director Razali Daud told The Associated Press that the camp was designed “to guide them back to the right path in life before they reach a point of no return. Such effeminate behavior is unnatural and will affect their studies and their future.”

He 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.”

Officials said the boys were invited to the camp and were not compelled to go.

Luckily, this act has received much deserved criticism:

A Malaysian ‘gay cure’ camp for effeminate teenagers should be abolished, the country’s women’s minister says.

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that the decision, by the state of Terengganu, violates the Children’s Act and would damage the boys.

“The experience of being singled out on the basis of perceived characteristics is an extremely traumatising experience, particularly for adolescent teens,” she told the Malaysia Star.

. . .A spokeswoman for the The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality said the camp was disturbing.

“The act of identifying and singling out boys who behave effeminately is highly discriminatory,” she said.

Sexual rights campaigner Pang Khee Teik said the move was homophobic and work not ‘cure’ any gay or trans children.

“All the students will learn from these camps is that they are expected to behave a certain way,” he told BBC News.

“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.”

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