LGBT rights: Malaysia women caned for attempting lesbian sex

Malaysia is accused of cracking down on LGBT people in the country as hopes that Mahathir's new government would be more inclusive have stuttered following a series of events that have dismayed the LGBT community and their allies

Two Malaysian women convicted of attempting lesbian sex in a vehicle have been caned in front of dozens of people, according to media and a state government official, prompting an outcry from human rights activists.

The unidentified women, aged 22 and 23, were fined 806 dollars (3,300 ringgit) in addition to the six strokes of the cane.

The case marks the first time two women have been sentenced for pursuing same-sex relations.

The groups in support of public canings believe it is important for the community to witness the punishment.

Satiful Bahri Mamat, an official in charge of Shariah implementation, said the caning serves as a public reminder to Muslims against committing illicit sex acts, which he called a "cancer that can spread in society", MalayMail reported.

Save Malaysian LGBT Community, an activist group in the country, told PinkNews that queer people were "receiving threats from the local community".

"The public caning of the two women in Malaysia is a awful reminder of the depth of discrimination LGBTI people".

Last month they pleaded guilty to attempting lesbian sex and were fined and sentenced to six lashings of the cane.

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Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan defended the caning of the two unidentified women, insisting that the punishment under Islamic law isn't painful and was meant to teach the women to repent.

Campaigners said it was the first time women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a sharia regulation which forbids same-sex relations. "Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people".

Court official Wan Abdul Malik Wan Sidek defended the punishment, saying it was not as tough as caning carried out for numerous crimes under Malaysia's civil law.

"Hence this degrading and humiliating punishment is in fact unIslamic, for even with "sinners", Islam emphasises heavily on the concept of mercy and the protection of the privacy and dignity of individuals", she said in a statement.

The Islamic affairs minister has spoken out against homosexuals and 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.

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

Two Malaysian women accused of pursuing a sexual relationship were caned in an Islamic court Monday, setting off an outcry from rights groups who said the country's political transformation this year had done little to ensure equal treatment of all citizens.

"And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned let alone due to their sexuality", he said. He said Malaysia had seen a worrying rise in anti-LGBT sentiment in recent months, including a violent assault by several men against a transgender woman last month.

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