Human rights groups have expressed alarm after some 66 boys determined to be "effeminate" by Malaysian public schools have been picked for re-education at a macho boot camp. The education department in Terengganu state established the camp to help boys deal with "identity issues" and place them on a "proper path in life," reports the Angola Press. The camp requires rigorous physical training and is intended to prevent boys, ages 13 to 17, from continuing or developing feminine traits, reports CNN. The education director said boys could face big problems in society if their behavior doesn't change.
An Amnesty International spokeswoman said the operation smacks of homophobia in a nation where homosexuality is illegal. "Starting a re-education camp or boot camp encourages discrimination against all people because of their sexual orientation," she warned. Malay government officials have also spoken out against the camp. "The experience of being singled out on the basis of perceived characteristics is an extremely traumatizing experience, in particular for adolescent teens," said Malaysia's Women, Family and Community Development minister. "Such profiling has potentially serious psychological repercussions." She charges that the camp violates the nation's Child Act, which protects children without prejudice. (Read more Malaysia stories.)