Convicted women to be caned in Malaysia for 'attempting lesbian sex'

Sharia law applied as two Malaysian women convicted of attempting to have lesbian sex in a car to be fined and caned.


In a rare case against gay people in the Muslim-majority country, two women, aged 32 and 22, are on bail pending the execution of the sentence on August 28.

Sharia law

According to the prosecutor Muhamad Khasmizan Abdullah, ‘under the sharia rules, they will be whipped with a rattan cane on their back with their clothes on while they are seated,’ adding ‘the caning would be carried out within the court premise.’ Mr Khasmizan said Islamic enforcement officers in the conservative northeastern state of Terengganu found the two Muslim women attempting to engage in sexual acts in a car during a patrol in April. The officers reported seeing one of the women in a state of undress and also discovered a sex toy in the car. The women were charged under the Islamic sharia law known as musahaqah, which bans lesbian sex, and sentenced to six strokes of the cane and a fine of 3,300 Malaysian ringgit (US$806) each after pleading guilty. The conviction comes amid concerns around growing intolerance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Malaysia after activists criticised some officials for making homophobic remarks in recent weeks.

'Form of torture'

Mr Khasmizan said, ‘sexual intercourse between people of the same sex is forbidden in Islam. It is an offence and morally wrong.’ Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia, which is punishable by up to 20 years in jail, although enforcement of the law is rare. He added, ‘this verdict is a first for us,’ explaining it was the first time people had been convicted for same-sex relations in Terengganu. Malaysia’s population is 32 million people, and ethnic Malay Muslims make up more than 60 per cent of the population. The country has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims running alongside civil laws. Thilaga Sulathireh, a rights group activist at Justice for Sisters, condemned the court’s decision as a form of torture. She said there have been previous cases of lesbian couples being arrested, but it was not known if they were convicted. She said, ‘consensual sex between adults is not a crime. This is a precedence and it will increase discrimination toward LGBT people.’ A minister last week ordered the removal of portraits of two LGBT advocates from a public photography exhibition as they promoted gay activities, sparking criticism from rights groups.

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