Malaysia: Lesbians BEATEN with cane for ‘trying to have sex’

Malaysia: Lesbians BEATEN with cane for ‘trying to have sex’

Two Malaysian women were caned Monday for having lesbian sex in violation of strict Islamic laws, despite an outcry from activists at the "cruel and unjust" punishment.

The officer swung the cane, hitting the first woman's back with a force similar to a forceful tap, as another woman officer from the Prison's Department kept count.

The two unnamed women, ages 22 and 32, were arrested in April after Islamic enforcement officers spotted them in a auto together in northeast Terengganu state, according to Agence France-Presse.

The sentence, delivered four months after an election that saw Malaysia's governing party ousted for the first time since the country was founded in 1957, reflects the country's deeply conservative culture despite a liberalization in its politics.

Observers from the Terengganu Syariah Lawyers Association and the State Bar Council said they were satisfied with the execution of the sentence.

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The case has put Malaysia under the global spotlight for its laws against consensual sexual activities between adults and for the corporal punishment imposed.

According to The Sun, Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist from Justice for Sisters, said the punishment had been turned into a public spectacle.

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

Unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment under Islamic law isn't painful or harsh and was meant to educate the women, said Sinwan.

The punishment, which is banned under civil law in Malaysia, is allowed under Islamic law in the country's dual-track legal system.

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Charles Santiago, a lawmaker who is part of the governing coalition, said the punishment was "outrageous" and "a form of torture".

"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", she continued.

"Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being".

Same-sex relations are abhorred in Malaysia and considered illegal under both secular and religious laws. "And that mercy is preferable to punishment." .

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.

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The caning of two women in Malaysia for attempting to have sex has been condemned as "inhuman and degrading". A transgender woman also was beaten up by a group of people in a southern state. "The caning of the two women is a awful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalisation that LGBTI people face in the country", the non-governmental organisation said.

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