2 women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’ in Malaysia

by Garry Watts September 5, 2018, 3:58
2 women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’ in Malaysia

Two Malaysian Muslim women convicted of attempting to have sex in a auto were caned on Monday in a rare public whipping that was denounced by some politicians and rights groups.

The caning was conducted inside the courtroom and witnessed by more than 100 people.The women were also fined 3,300 ringgit ($800).

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The country operates a dual-track legal system and Islamic courts can handle religious and family matters for Muslim citizens, as well as cases such as adultery. A Sharia court fined them on August 12, following which they pleaded guilty to having sexual relations.

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

"This is a bad day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia", Amnesty International's Malaysia Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a statement.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― Those who disagree with state laws enabling public caning of Muslim offenders should push for the laws to be changed in the state legislative assemblies, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Samad said today.

"People should not live in fear because they are attracted to people of the same sex".

Asked for Amanah's stand on the public caning of two alleged lesbians in Terengganu over a Shariah offence on Monday, Khalid noted that laws relating to religion in Malaysia are passed in the individual lawmaking bodies in each state.

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A witness to the caning, Thilaga Sulathireh of the group Justice for Sisters, blasted the punishment as torture.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International's Malaysia researcher, said the women's sentences are a reminder of the "depth of discrimination and criminalization" that LGBT people face in the country, and a sign that the new government that promised reform condones "degrading" punishments like its predecessor.

"This case shows a regression for human rights", she said, "Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people". It's not about the severity of the caning.

"It did not look forceful and we are satisfied because proper procedure was followed in which the caning did not break the skin", said association deputy president Fazru Anuar Yusof.

Rights groups assailed the new government for discrimination against gay men and lesbians and for continuing to allow a form of corporal punishment outlawed in most of the world.

Lawmaker Charles Santiago said the government must repeal all laws that criminalise homosexuality.

"Sexual acts between two consenting adults should not be criminalised, let alone punished with whipping", Women's Aid Organisation said.

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

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