Malaysian women caned for attempting to have lesbian sex

Malaysia: Two women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’

The two women who pleaded guilty to attempting to have same-sex relations in a auto were caned six times at the Terengganu Syariah High Court here yesterday.

It was the first conviction for same-sex relations and the first time a caning had been carried out in public in the state, Reuters quoted Satiful Bahri Mamat, a member of the Terengganu state executive council, as saying.

The BBC reports that the women, aged 22 and 32, were each caned six times in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu.

That two women were caned while "100 people gawked at them" in the public gallery of the court was shocking and humiliating, he said.

"People are afraid because this is the first time that two women are being caned for sexual acts", she told CNN.

Almost two-thirds of Malaysia's 31 million people are Muslims who are governed by Islamic courts in family, marriage and personal issues.

Sharia law enforcement officers in Terengganu identified the two women attempting to engage in sexual acts in a auto in April.

Last month they pleaded guilty to attempting lesbian sex and were fined and sentenced to six lashings of the cane.

The caning of women is banned under civil law, but allowed under Islamic laws in some states.


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

Muslim Lawyers Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan, who held a watching brief, yesterday told Malay Mail however that there was no intention to humiliate the two women as they were given private access in and out of court to protect their identities, and insisted that Shariah caning is not painful or harsh.

Malaysia follows a dual-track justice system.

A reformist alliance took power in Malaysia at historic May elections, fuelling hopes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people might face less discrimination in a country where authorities have routinely targeted them in the past.

"We conduct activities with Persatuan Insaf [a non-governmental organisation] to engage the transgender community to have strong ties with the religion and guide them back to the original path", he said.

"This case shows a regression for human rights", Sulathireh said.

"And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned let alone due to their sexuality", he said.

Malaysia is seen as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority country, but there has been a shift toward increasingly conservative Islam in recent years.

Malaysian religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered portraits of LGBT activists removed from an arts festival in Penang in early August, sparking an avalanche of criticism.

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