Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Malaysian women caned for attemping to have lesbian sex

Malaysian women caned for attemping to have lesbian sex

Two women were publicly caned by a Malaysian Shariah court on Monday for allegedly having sex, a punishment that drew global rebuke as both cruel and indicative of growing concerns about LGBT discrimination in the country.

The officer swung the cane, hitting the first woman's back with a force similar to a forceful tap, as another woman officer from the Prison's Department kept count.

The two unidentified women were discovered by Islamic officials in April and sentenced last month by a Shariah court to six strokes of a cane and a fine after pleading guilty.

In a statement, she added: "This is a bad day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia".

Human rights groups slammed the punishment as a setback for human rights and said it could worsen discrimination against people in Malaysia's lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community.

Lawyers and activists say more than 100 people witnessed the caning in a Sharia court in north-east Terengganu state.

The women, aged 32 and 22, had pleaded guilty last month to attempting lesbian sex, forbidden under Islamic law.

Amnesty International called the caning "a bad day" for human rights.

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According to The Star, caning under Islamic law is not similar to caning carried out for crimes under civil law.

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".

Malaysian rights activists believe this is the first time two women have been publicly caned in the country for same-sex relations.

"The power of the court has been enacted in [the] Terengganu state constitution ..."

The country operates a dual-track legal system. The Malaysian Bar said the country should not tolerate caning in any form and should repeal all forms of corporal punishment.

Authorities also removed the portraits of two LGBT activists from a public exhibition a few weeks ago, with the country's religious minister, Mujahid Yusuf, later saying that the government did not support the promotion of LGBT culture. "The caning of the two women is a terrible reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalisation that LGBTI people face in the country", the non-governmental organisation said.

While Malaysian Muslims tend to practice a moderate form of Islam, more conservative Islam is on the rise, thought to be a result of increasing influence and investment from Saudi Arabia.

A transgender woman was beaten up by a group of assailants in Seremban, south of Kuala Lumpur on August 15, in what activists said was part of a growing hostility towards gay and transgender people.

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