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Two Women Have Just Been Caned For Attempting Lesbian Sex In Malaysia

© Yannis Papanastasopoulos Unsplash

Two women have been caned in Malaysia by the Terengganu sharia high court for attempting to have lesbian sex. The women, aged 22 and 32, were each caned six times in the court room, in front of up to 100 witnesses. With human rights groups concerned about the increasing wave of homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia, activists have stated that the ‘public caning’ will only further such prejudice.

The women were identified by sharia law enforcement officers in Terengganu back in April, after they were found attempting to have sex in a car. They both pled guilty to musahaqah, or sexual relations between women, and were fined 3,300 Malaysian Ringgit (£619) and ordered to be caned.

‘The punishment was shocking and it was a spectacle,’ Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist from the Malaysian rights group Justice for Sisters who witnessed the caning told the Guardian, ‘For all intents and purposes it was a public caning.’

Women have previously been caned in Malaysia for sexual offenses like adultery, however activists consider this to be the first time two women have been caned for attempting to have sex.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia, with each state able to enact sharia law. While activists had previously protested the case, arguing that it constituted torture under international human rights law, the Malaysian government allowed it to go ahead.

‘This case shows a regression for human rights,’ Thilaga continued, ‘Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people.’

There was hope that the new Malaysian government would provide better protections for the LGBT+ community, however this case has proven those optimisms wrong. In a statement sent out in August, Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program at Human Rights Watch, said it was the ‘latest blow to Malaysia’s LGBT community.’

‘This prosecution and punishment,’ he continued, ‘will only fuel the recent wave of homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia.

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