Published: Wed, September 05, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Rights activists blast caning of Malaysian lesbian women

Rights activists blast caning of Malaysian lesbian women

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

The two women, aged 22 and 32, were caned six times each in the Terengganu sharia high court just after 10am, after the sentence was read out.

The women, who were dressed in white headscarves and clothing, sat on stools facing the judges while female prison officers struck their backs using light rattan canes, according to the Associated Press.

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

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with civil law applying to everybody, but Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims.

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

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.

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

In a statement, Amnesty International Malaysia said that people "should not live in fear because they are attracted to people of the same sex" and decried caning as "a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".

The punishments came amid the new Malaysian government's rising rhetoric against homosexuality and follows weeks of attacks against members of the LGBT community. "Corporal punishment is a form of torture regardless of your intention", she said.

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

The case has not only prompted outrage among rights organizations, it has also cast a spotlight on what activists say is an increasing climate of hostility and discrimination against the LGBT community in Malaysia. And that mercy is preferable to punishment, " opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted.

"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 there has been a shift toward increasingly conservative Islam in recent years.

Reportedly the situation for LGBT communityis getting harder and harder in Malaysia.

Malaysia is now embroiled in a political furore over LGBT+ rights, sparked by government minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa's order to an arts festival to remove its portraits of local queer activists last month.

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