Malaysian Women Sentenced to Caning for Lesbian Sex, Sparking Outrage Among Human Rights Activists
Malaysian women sentenced for caning over lesbian sex. (Photo Credits: Pixabay)

Two Malaysian women in Terengganu have been sentenced to caning for having lesbian sex with each other. The women, aged 32 and 22, were arrested in April after being found in a car in a public square. After pleading guilty they were sentenced to six strokes with a cane each and a 3,300-ringgit fine, according to Malay-language newspaper Sinar Harian. The ruling by a syariah court in the conservative state sparked outrage from human rights activists who said the LGBT community is facing increasing pressure from the Muslim-majority government.

The two were bought before the syariah court on Sunday and admitted to breaking a Syariah law that forbids sexual relations between women. “Adequate punishment must be meted out so that this becomes a lesson and reminder to not just the two of you, but the members of society,” Syariah judge Kamalruazmi Ismail said, according to the daily. The women were released on bail and their sentence is set to be carried out on August 28, although they have the right to appeal. Caning does not take place in view in Malaysia.

A coalition of 10 Malaysian organisations issued statements condemning the ruling and calling it a ‘gross violation of their dignity and human rights’. “Consensual sex acts between adults is not a crime,” said the coalition, which includes groups such as Justice for Sisters, All Women’s Action Society and Association for Women Lawyers. “We are extremely concerned about the impact of the punishment not only on the two women, but also on the LGBTQ population as a whole.”

Amnesty International Malaysia said caning amounted to torture and called on the government to repeal laws that impose punishment against marginalised communities. Malaysia describes oral and anal sex as against the order of nature. Civil law stipulates jail for up to 20 years, caning and fines for offenders.