I'm a practising Muslim and I disagree with Terengganu caning, says Anwar
Sep 05, 2018, 03:57
Two women found guilty of attempting to have sex have been caned in Malaysia's conservative north-eastern state of Terengganu, in the first punishment of its kind.
Rights campaigners said it was the first time women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a syariah regulation which forbids same-sex relations.
The women, who were convicted of "sexual relations between women", were each struck six times with a rattan cane in front of witnesses in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu, officials said.
The women, dressed in white dresses and Muslim headscarves, were each given six strokes as they sat on stools in a sharia court, with one of them breaking down in tears.
The older woman did not wince, according to the newspaper, while the younger one sobbed.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and Muslims can be tried in shariah courts.
Charles Santiago, a parliamentary member from the Malaysian state of Selangor, expressed his outrage in a series of tweets after the punishment was carried out in the Terengganu court on Monday morning.
The women, aged 32 and 22, had pleaded guilty last month to attempting lesbian sex, forbidden under Islamic law. 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.
Rights groups had previously urged the Malaysian government to drop the case, which they argued constituted torture under global human rights law.
The Save Malaysian LGBT Community, which has more than 3,000 followers on Facebook, told PinkNews that these latest developments were "really worrying".
"The punishment was shocking and it was a spectacle", Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist from the Malaysian rights group Justice for Sisters told The Guardian.
The women were punished after they were seen engaging in sexual activity in a auto, Santiago said.
Human rights organizations have condemned both the use of caning as a punishment and the fact that someone's sexual preference could be treated as a crime.
The public nature of the caning has been criticised, including by Umno's Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who said it should not have been done publicly as Islamic teachings are that the dignity of each person should be looked after.
"The Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture", the group said.
The country, whose population is around 60 percent Muslim, has seen a recent rise in Islamic conservativism, with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Malaysia regularly subjected to discrimination and hostility.
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