Malaysian women caned for attempted lesbian sex

One of the two women found guilty of same-sex relations by the Terengganu shariah court and caned along with another woman yesterday.

Campaigners said it was the first time women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a sharia regulation which forbids same-sex relations.

The women, ages 22 and 32, were each caned six times in the Terengganu sharia high court shortly after the sentence was announced.

The women were caned six times each in the Sharia High Court in front of around 100 people.

"The public caning of the two women in Malaysia is a terrible reminder of the depth of discrimination LGBTI people".

Lesbian sex is illegal for Muslims in Malaysia under Islamic laws, but not for the country's substantial minorities of ethnic Chinese and Indians.

According to The Star, caning under Islamic law is not similar to caning carried out for crimes under civil law.

The women, dressed in white headscarves and clothing, didn't cry or scream but "showed remorse, " he said.

She said Malaysia has accepted a dual legal system and all parties should respect the decision.

Thilaga Sulathireh, from the group Justice for Sisters, who witnessed the ordeal, was concerned about the safety, privacy, harassment, humiliation and trauma of the women.

"It really is a sign of how human rights are regressing in Malaysia not only for LGBT but for all people".

Calling it an "appalling day" for human rights in Malaysia, another activist called the act atrocious. It's not about the severity of the caning.

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.

But, she continued: "As long as draconian legislation which criminalises Malaysians based on their sexual orientation and gender identity remains on the books, LGBTI people will continue to be at risk of this type of punishment".

He called on the new government to repeal all laws that criminalize homosexuality.

"Sexual acts between two consenting adults should not be criminalised, let alone punished with whipping", Women's Aid Organisation 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.

Malaysian religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa ordered portraits of LGBT activists removed from an arts festival in Penang in early August, sparking an avalanche of criticism.

While Malaysian Muslims tend to practice a moderate form of Islam, more conservative Islam is on the rise, thought to be a result of increasing influence and investment from Saudi Arabia.