Malaysia women caned for attempting to have lesbian sex

Members of Nepal's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community prepare for a gay pride parade in Kathmandu

Members of Nepal's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community prepare for a gay pride parade in Kathmandu

The two, aged 22 and 32, were each given six strokes of the cane in an Islamic law court in the conservative state of Terengganu, which is governed by the Pan-Malaysian Islamist Party.

Rights groups assailed the new government for discrimination against gay men and lesbians and for continuing to allow a form of corporal punishment outlawed in most of the world.

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.

Malaysian outlet The Star reports that the caning of the two lesbian women was witnessed by more than 100 people.

Almost two-thirds of Malaysia's population are Muslims, who are governed by Islamic courts in family, marriage and personal issues.

"I was confused about it before because we imagined that it would be forceful but after seeing it today, it puts the Syariah court in a positive light and this issue shouldn't be exaggerated".

A member of the Terengganu state executive council, Satiful Bahri Mamat, defended the punishment, telling the agency it had not been meant to "torture or injure" and had been carried out in public to "serve as a lesson to society". He added: "The reason it is carried out in public is for it to serve as a lesson to society".

Meanwhile, several groups have expressed their disagreement over the punishment.

"The Malaysian Bar unreservedly opposes corporal punishment, including caning".

Amnesty International's Malaysia Researcher, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, told PinkNews that Monday's canings represented "the first time to our knowledge that caning has been meted out for consensual same-sex relations in Malaysia".

"The punishment was shocking and it was a spectacle", Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist from the Malaysian rights group Justice for Sisters who was in court on Monday told the Guardian, "For all intents and purposes it was a public caning".

"This prosecution and punishment", he said in an August 21 statement, "will only fuel the recent wave of homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia".

"We support [the caning sentence] as it shows the beauty of Islam but in Pahang, we have not decided yet and will look into it", he said, according to New Straits Times.

"We will one day reach the stage of implementing [punishment], so educating the people will be continuously carried out as a reminder to the community to stop their acts which will only incur the wrath and anger of Allah". "We need to grow up as a society and learn to embrace diversity", he said.

Lawmaker Charles Santiago called on the government to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality. They were also fined roughly $800.

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