Caning of two Malaysian women for lesbian sex sparks outcry
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Caning of two Malaysian women for lesbian sex sparks outcry

THE public caning of two women convicted of attempting lesbian sex in a conservative Malaysian state on Monday has sparked outrage among activists and civil society groups.

The caning sentences on the women, aged 32 and 22, were carried out before some 100 people at the Syariah High Court in Terengganu, a state led by orthodox Islamic opposition party PAS.

Activists said it was the first time women in the Muslim-majority country have been caned for violating a Syariah regulation forbidding same-sex relations. They said the case highlights the worsening climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) people in the Southeast Asian country, according to the AFP.

SEE ALSO: Caning for lesbian sex? That’s torture, say Malaysian rights groups 

Malaysian rights group Women’s Aid Organisation said it was “outraged and appalled by this grave violation of human rights.

“Sexual acts between two consenting adults should not be criminalised, let alone punished with whipping,” the group told Reuters.

Amnesty International said it was a “dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination LGBT people face in the country and a sign that the new government condones the use of inhuman and degrading punishments, much like its predecessor”.

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Pro-democracy Bersih protesters carry an LGBT rainbow flag in Bukit Raja, Selangor, Malaysia on 29 August, 2015. Source: Twitter /

Last month, the two women, whose identities were not revealed, pleaded guilty to attempting lesbian sex, forbidden under Islamic law. The Syariah court sentenced them to a fine and six lashings of the cane.

Despite the outcry, Satiful Bahri Mamat, a member of the Terengganu state executive council, said the punishment was “not intended to torture or injure”

“Syariah criminal procedure allows the court to determine where the sentence will be carried out, and requires that it must be witnessed by a number of other Muslims,” said Satiful, who attended the hearing. Syariah is Islamic law.

SEE ALSO: Malaysian university tries to convert those with LGBT ‘disorders’ 

“The reason it is carried out in public is for it to serve as a lesson to society,” he said.

However, women’s rights group Sisters in Islam said remarks by authorities that caning is not intended to cause pain or harm the women is in “direct contradiction” to the degree of humiliation the two women faced from the orchestrated spectacle, and the resulting psychological and emotional impact.

“The state’s actions here are responsible for the violence of the trauma, and humiliation caused on the two women as well as the society at large.”