Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Activists condemn "inhuman" caning of Malaysian lesbian

Activists condemn

They were caned six times each in front of the panel judges and approximately 100 people at the Syariah High Court in Terengganu, and given a RM3,300 fine.

After a medical officer confirmed the health status of the accused and that they were ready to be whipped, the women, aged 32 and 22, were led to a stool at the corner of the courtroom with their back facing those in the public gallery.

Two Malaysian women were caned publicly after they pleaded guilty to attempting to have lesbian sex.

First of its kind: The caning for such an offence is believed to be the first to be carried out in the state.

Latheefa also slammed the Shariah Court for its statement that the caning did not hurt the women and that their privacy was protected as they had separate doors to enter and exit the court premises. "Suhakam cautions the government that undermining Malaysia's worldwide human rights obligations rather than to uphold them would not be in the best interest of progress and success", it added.

Thilaga Sulathireh, from transgender rights group Justice for Sisters, said the caning would "increase the impunity of perpetrators to carry out acts of violence" aimed at gay people. "It's a sign that the new government condones the use of measures that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, much like its predecessor", Amnesty International wrote in a press release.

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Unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment used under Islamic laws isn't meant to serve as a lesson rather than being painful or harsh, according to Sinwan.

It is the first time anybody has been convicted for same-sex relations in the state and the first time a caning has been carried out in public there, Satiful Bahri Mamat, a member of the state executive council who attended, said. "I have consistently repeated in Parliament that we do not support the promotion of LGBT culture in Malaysia", he said at the time.

Linda Lakhdhir, a legal adviser in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, told CNN that the caning demonstrates that the religious right is "flexing their muscles and making clear that the laws against LGBT activity will be enforced in their state". "And that mercy is preferable to punishment." .

"And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned let alone due to their sexuality", he said.

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Islamic courts handle the religious and family matters of Muslim citizens. Reportedly the situation for LGBT communityis getting harder and harder in Malaysia. 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.

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