LGBT rights: Malaysia women caned for attempting lesbian sex

Malaysia: Two women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’

Two Malaysian Muslim women convicted under Islamic laws of attempting to have sex were caned Monday in a rare public whipping that was slammed by lawmakers and rights activists as a form of torture.

The BBC reports that the women, aged 22 and 32, were each caned six times in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu.

"Caning is a terrible reminder of the depth of discrimination LGBTI people face in the country and a sign that the new government condones the use of inhuman and degrading punishments, much like its predecessor", Lee added.

The two women caned on Monday, aged 22 and 32, were arrested by sharia law enforcement officers this April, after they were found attempting to engage in sexual acts in a vehicle.

"There's a disparity and gap between Muslim and non-Muslim women", Sulathireh said.

"Repentance is the ultimate aim for their sin", Sinwan said.

The caning "occurred amid a climate of fear and discrimination against Malaysia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community", says the Associated Press, and drew criticism from LGBT and human rights activists.

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The Save Malaysian LGBT Community, which has more than 3,000 followers on Facebook, told PinkNews that these latest developments were "really worrying".

They had last month pleaded guilty to breaking Islamic laws and were sentenced to be caned and fined RM3,300 ($800, £619).

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.

The caning is believed to be the first punishment of its kind for the state, and it drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups. It's not about the severity of the caning. "Corporal punishment is a form of torture regardless of your intention", she said.

"It did not look forceful and we are satisfied because proper procedure was followed in which the caning did not break the skin", said association deputy president Fazru Anuar Yusof. "And that mercy is preferable to punishment." . Linda Lakhdhir, legal adviser in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, told CNN that the punishment was the religious rights way of "flexing their muscles and making clear that the law against LGBT activity will be enforced in their state".

Malaysian Muslims have traditionally practised a tolerant brand of Islam but concerns have been growing in recent years that attitudes are becoming more conservative. Just a week earlier, Malaysia's religious affairs minister ordered the removal of portraits of LGBT activists from an arts festival in Penang, telling reporters, "We do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia".

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