Terengganu, Malaysia -
Gay rights activists have denounced a move by Malaysian school officials to send 66 effeminate boys to a special camp for counseling on masculine behavior, saying the move promotes homophobia in the Muslim-majority country.
"It should be strongly opposed and challenged as it promotes homophobia and prejudice," The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality 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."
The BBC reports
the boys are undergoing four days of religious and physical education in what is being called a "self-development course."
"As educators, we have to do something about it before the young ones misunderstand people and reach the point of no return," the state education director from Terengganu state, Razali Daud, told the New Straits Times
The students, who reportedly displayed "feminine mannerisms," were invited to join the camp and were not compelled to do so.
Daud said, "he knew that some some people end up as transvestite or a homosexual, but we will do our best to limit the number."
Gay sex is illegal in Malaysia and is punishable by 20 years in prison.