Now Reading
Malaysia canes two women for lesbian sex

Malaysia canes two women for lesbian sex

A person who is completely covered holds a cane up and is preparing to hit another person dressed in all white on a stage in front of hundreds of onlookers

Malaysia caned two women under Islamic law on Monday (3 September) for having lesbian sex.

Human rights groups and LGBTI activists immediately denounced the punishment.

The two women, aged 22 and 32, were arrested by Islamic enforcement officers in April. Officers found them together in a car park in the country’s conservative Terengganu state.

An Islamic Sharia Court therefore sentenced the women to six lashes and a fine of RM3,330 (US$814).

Last week, the court postponed their caning due to ‘technical reasons’. Previously, 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.

Twenty minutes of pain

The whipping started at 10am and ended approximately 20 minutes later, Muslim Lawyers Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan told the Malay Mail.

A caning officer caned the two women six times individually. Importantly, it took place in front of the judge and an audience of 100 people.

Malaysia punished the two women under Sections 30 and 59(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment.

In Malaysia, Islamic courts can cover religious and family matters for Muslim citizens. This runs in parallel to the main legal system.

Homosexuality remains illegal in Malaysia under the British colonial-era statute, Section 377A.

Activists said this is the first time recently Malaysia has used the punishment against homosexuals.

In Indonesia’s Aceh province, canings are often dealt out for homosexual acts under Sharia law.

‘Inhuman and degrading’

Malaysia is becoming an increasingly hostile place for LGBTI people. Local and international rights groups on Monday denounced the punishment.

‘Caning is torture, full stop,’ said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia.

‘No one should be tortured for any reason, and certainly not for loving someone of the same gender,’ he said.

He urged Malaysia to end its ‘medieval practices’ towards LGBT persons, outlaw corporal punishment, compensate the two women, and join the 21st century.

The caning was a ‘a dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination LGBTI people face in the country,’ said Amnesty International Malaysia.

‘The new government condones the use of inhuman and degrading punishments, much like its predecessor,’ it said on Twitter.

On Sunday (2 September), LGBTI groups in Malaysia issued a joint statement. They said the marginalized community had not received any respite since Pakatan Harapan took power.