‘We need to grow up’: Malaysian MPs condemn caning lesbian couple

Malaysia: Two women caned for ‘attempting lesbian sex’

Two women found guilty of attempting to have sex have been caned in Malaysia's conservative north-eastern state of Terengganu, in the first punishment of its kind.

The older woman did not wince, according to the newspaper, while the younger one sobbed.

Malaysia operates a dual-track legal system.

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Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and Muslims can be tried in shariah courts.

The caning, originally scheduled for August 28, but was postponed to Monday due to technical reasons, the Chief Registrar of the court, Wan Wan-Sidek, said as he defended the public caning.

The two unidentified women were discovered by officials in a parked vehicle in April and sentenced last month to six strokes of a cane and $800 fines each after pleading guilty.

"People should not live in fear because they are attracted to people of the same sex", Amnesty International Malaysia said in a statement.

"I'm a practising Muslim, but I don't share that interpretation and certainly that sort of action to publicly cane without proper due process and understanding", Datuk Seri Anwar, who is president-elect of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, one of the ruling coalition partners, said at a press conference in Makati City.

A spokesperson for the group predicted: "People will try to track down all LGBTQ people and get them punished".

While activists decried Monday's caning as a grave violation of human rights, officials in Terengganu claimed the sharia punishment was justified.

Thilaga Sulathireh, from the group Justice for Sisters, who witnessed the ordeal, was concerned about the safety, privacy, harassment, humiliation and trauma of the women.

The public nature of the caning has been criticised, including by Umno's Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who said it should not have been done publicly as Islamic teachings are that the dignity of each person should be looked after.

"Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits corporal punishment against female prisoners of any age".

However, he also told parliament that the government is concerned about the "spread of the LGBT lifestyle", and has reportedly spoken about camps and seminars for LGBT people, according to Human Rights Watch.

"The Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture", the group said. "We really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned. due to their sexuality", he said.

Authorities also removed the portraits of two LGBT activists from a public exhibition a few weeks ago, with the country's religious minister, Mujahid Yusuf, later saying that the government did not support the promotion of LGBT culture.

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