Rights activists blast caning of Malaysian lesbian women

04 September, 2018, 07:10 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Malaysia: Two women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’

The women, aged 22 and 32, were arrested in April by Islamic enforcement officers after they were found in a vehicle in a public square in the northern state of Terengganu, one of the country's most conservative areas.

The duo, whose identities have not been revealed, were arrested earlier in April by Islamic enforcement officers after they were found in a vehicle in a public square in Terengganu.

Amnesty International Malaysia said the caning marked "an appalling day" for human rights in the country and in a statement called corporal punishment "a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" that might "amount to torture".

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).

"Boycott Malaysian products until the government there stops torturing people for living their lives", Blocker wrote on his Twitter page.

He insisted that the caning was "not meant to torture or injure", adding that "the reason it is carried out in public is for it to serve as a lesson to society".

The women, dressed in white headscarves and clothing, didn't cry or scream but "showed remorse", said Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan.

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Campaigners told AFP that Monday's caning was the first time two women have been punished for same-sex relations.

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.

"It really is a sign of how human rights are regressing in Malaysia not only for LGBT but for all people".

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.

Malaysian rights group Women's Aid Organisation told Reuters news agency it was "appalled by this grave violation of human rights". Recently, Malaysia's Islamic affairs minister ordered pictures of LGBT activists to be removed from a public exhibition, while a transgender woman was brutally attacked in the southern state of Negeri Sembilan. And also homosexual sex is illegal throughout Malaysia under the colonial era law.

Malaysia's Muslims have generally been seen as moderate but there are concerns the community is becoming more conservative.

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. "I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia", he said at the time.

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