A local court has delayed the caning of two women convicted of ‘attempted sexual relations’ due to ‘technical issues’.
The women aged 32 and 22 were arrested in April for trying to have sex in a car. They were arrested in the state of Terengganu in the north-west of the country.
A Islamic Sharia Court sentenced the women to six lashes and a fine of RM3,330 (US$814).
But earlier today the court registrar confirmed the court postponed their caning due to ‘technical reasons’.
‘A few agencies will be involved in the punishment, and there are some technical issues that have yet to be resolved,’ registrar Nurulhuda Abd Rahman told media.
‘Therefore, it was best to postpone the punishment to a later date.’
When sentencing the women, Judge Kamalruazmi Ismail said the harsh sentence would act as a deterrent to others.
‘[This]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,’ the judge said in his ruling.
Caning is torture
Human rights groups in Malaysia and around the world condemned the sentence and called on the government to stop it from happening.
‘The scheduled caning of two women is the latest blow to Malaysia’s LGBT community, which had hoped for better protection under the country’s new government,’ said Graeme Reid, director of HRW’s LGBTI rights program.
‘This prosecution and punishment will only fuel the recent wave of homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia.’
An Australian Senator also called on her government to speak out against the sentence.
‘Australia is a leader in the Asia Pacific region,’ said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ spokesperson.
‘The Australian government must act in light of this chilling state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTIQ people. Our government has the responsibility to use its considerable influence to end this horrific persecution of LGBTIQ people.’
The women’s sentence came as a wave of anti-LGBTI sentiment swept over the country. LGBTI issues have been under the spotlight since the government removed two portraits of LGBTI leaders from a photographic exhibition.