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 Terengganu state official said that 66 boys, aged between 13 and 17, were identified by teachers as having effeminate mannerisms.

On Monday, they began a four-day “self-development course” in the hope of dissuading them from being gay or transgender.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and state education director Razali Daud said authorities wanted to “limit” the numbers of gay and transgender people

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.”