Malaysian Women Sentenced To Canning For Lesbian Sex

Two Muslim women in Malaysia have been sentenced to caning for having sex with each other.

Malaysian Women Sentenced To Canning For Lesbian Sex
Malaysian Muslims protesting against gay rights in Kuala Lumpur (Reuters)

Two Muslim women in Malaysia have been sentenced to caning for having sex with each other.

The ruling, by a Sharia court in the conservative state of Terengganu, sparked outrage from human rights activists who said the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) community is facing increasing pressure from the Muslim-majority government.

The women, aged 32 and 22, were arrested in April after being found in a car in a public square. After pleading guilty they were sentenced to six strokes with a cane each and a 3,300 ringgit (£633) fine, according to Malay-language newspaper Sinar Harian.

“Adequate punishment must be meted out so that this becomes a lesson and reminder to not just the two of you, but the members of society,” Sharia judge Kamalruazmi Ismail said, according to the daily.

"The caning would be carried out within the court premise," prosecutor said. "Under the sharia rules, they will be whipped with a rattan cane on their back with their clothes on while they are seated."

Caning does not take place in public view in Malaysia.

The women were released on bail and their sentence is set to be carried out on 28 August, although they have the right to appeal.

“Sexual intercourse between people of the same sex is forbidden in Islam. It is an offence and morally wrong,” Muhamad Khasmizan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“This verdict is a first for us,” the prosecutor added, saying it was the first time people had been convicted for same-sex relations in Terengganu.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with Sharia courts managing some religious and family cases. Civil law stipulates jail for up to 20 years, caning and fines for oral or anal sex (whether same-sex or otherwise).

The country’s Muslims are also governed by state-level Islamic laws, most of which carry provisions banning gay and lesbian sex.

Amnesty International Malaysia said caning amounted to torture and called on the government to repeal laws that impose punishment against marginalised communities.

The court ruling indicated a “concerning climate” of LGBT+ discrimination and a “growing threat on the lives and the safety” of LGBT+ people in Malaysia, the group’s interim executive director Gwen Lee said in a statement.

Malaysia is home to 32 million people, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up more than 60 percent of the population and the remaining ethnic minorities practice other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. It has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside civil laws.

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