Malaysian Muslim lesbian couple caned in public punishment
05 September, 2018, 03:55 | Author: Kim Reid
A Malaysian MP has called for laws that criminalise homosexuality to be immediately abolished amid an outcry over the caning of two women convicted by a sharia court of attempting to have lesbian sex.
The women, aged 22 and 32, were arrested in April by Islamic enforcement officers after they were found in a auto in a public square in northern Terengganu state, one of the country's most conservative areas.
The women, dressed in white headscarves and clothing, didn't cry or scream but "showed remorse", said Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan.
"People are afraid because this is the first time that two women are being caned for sexual acts", she told CNN.
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation, has a justice system that includes both civil courts with jurisdiction over everyone and Sharia courts that apply only to Muslims.
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Sharia law enforcement officers in Terengganu identified the two women attempting to engage in sexual acts in a vehicle in April. The women, who had pleaded guilty to having "sexual relations between women", were led to a stool, and two female officers took turns striking them in the back.
According to The Star, caning under Islamic law is not similar to caning carried out for crimes under civil law.
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― Those who disagree with state laws enabling public caning of Muslim offenders should push for the laws to be changed in the state legislative assemblies, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Samad said today.
"To inflict this brutal punishment on two people for attempting to engage in consensual, same-sex relations is an atrocious setback in the government's efforts to improve its human rights record", said Rachel Chhoa-Howard of Amnesty International.
The Save Malaysian LGBT Community, which has more than 3,000 followers on Facebook, told PinkNews that these latest developments were "really worrying". The most shocking fact was also that the duo were caned in public among hundred of onlookers.
"These inconsistencies create confusion in the jurisdiction of the Prison Department thus directly affecting the rights of women in Malaysia protected by Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution against gender discrimination", the NGOs said. And that mercy is preferable to punishment, " opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted.
"Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people", Sulathireh said.
Concerns have been mounting in recent weeks in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic country where some 60 percent of the population is Muslim, about a deteriorating climate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Charles Santiago, a member of Parliament and of the country's governing coalition, said the punishment came amid a rise in anti-LGBT sentiment in Malaysia, citing as an example the case of a transgender woman who was beaten by eight men last month.
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