LGBT rights: Malaysia women caned for attempting lesbian sex

Clay Curtis
September 4, 2018

A sharia court in Malaysia found two women guilty of attempting to have sex and caned them for punishment, authorities said Monday.

Two Malaysian women convicted under Islamic law of attempting to have sex have been caned in public.

And it was also the first time the kind of punishment that was open to the public.

The punishment meted out to them was the first public caning incident ever witnessed in the country.

The case has put Malaysia under the global spotlight for its laws against consensual sexual activities between adults and for the corporal punishment imposed.

"Acts transgressing human rights under the pretext of Islam is a disservice to the religion and its role as the paragon of justice and equality".

About 150 people were present in the courtroom, watching as a lady officer from Kajang Women's Prison carried out the sentence with a cane measuring about a metre.

The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, pleaded guilty last month to breaking Islamic laws and were sentenced to six strokes of the cane each and a fine of 3,300 ringgit (26,000 baht).

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"Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture, " Amnesty International Malaysia said in a statement.

Under Malaysian civil law the caning of women is prohibited, but it is permitted under Islamic law in some states that have adopted concurrent sharia laws.

Satiful Bahri Mamat, a member of the Terengganu state executive council, told Reuters that such punishments are not meant to "torture or injure", but rather to "serve as a lesson to society". The Malaysian Bar said the country should not tolerate caning in any form and should repeal all forms of corporal punishment.

Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system.

Malaysia is seen as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority country, but Islamic conservatism is on the rise.

"Mercy is preferable to punishment".

Linda Lakhdhir, a legal adviser in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, told CNN that the caning demonstrates that the religious right is "flexing their muscles and making clear that the laws against LGBT activity will be enforced in their state". "We really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned. due to their sexuality", he said. Reportedly the situation for LGBT communityis getting harder and harder in Malaysia. A transgender woman was also beaten up by a group of people in a southern state this month. Just a week earlier, Malaysia's religious affairs minister ordered the removal of portraits of LGBT activists from an arts festival in Penang, telling reporters, "We do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia".

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