Public caning of Malaysian lesbian women blasted as 'atrocious' by rights activists

Public caning of Malaysian lesbian women blasted as 'atrocious' by rights activists

"To inflict this brutal punishment on two people for attempting to engage in consensual, same-sex relations is an atrocious setback in the government's efforts to improve its human rights record".

"It's a regression of human rights in Malaysia". They were sentenced to the caning in August by a Shariah court in Terengganu.

Farouk said the public caning contravened Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment.

Following widespread worldwide criticism, a decision by the provincial Government earlier this year to ban public canings was met by strong opposition from local parliament, and religious activist groups.

The verdict, said Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program at Human Rights Watch, was the "latest blow to Malaysia's LGBT community, which had hoped for better protection under the new government".

Two Malaysian women convicted of attempting to have lesbian sex in a auto have been caned in a religious court.

They had last month pleaded guilty to breaking Islamic laws and were sentenced to be caned and fined RM3,300 ($800, £619).

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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".

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. She said Malaysian laws were inconsistent because civil laws prohibit corporal punishment against female prisoners.

Malaysia is now embroiled in a political furore over LGBT+ rights, sparked by government minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa's order to an arts festival to remove its portraits of local queer activists last month.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system which allows Islamic courts to handle religious and family cases for the country's Muslims, which make up about 60 percent of the population. It's not about the severity of the caning. Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa has spoken out against bullying and said Islamic authorities should end their focus on arresting transgender women for "posing as a female".

Charles Santiago, a lawmaker who is part of the governing coalition, said the punishment was "outrageous" and "a form of torture".

"And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned let alone due to their sexuality, " he said.

Malaysian Muslims have traditionally practised a tolerant brand of Islam but concerns have been growing in recent years that attitudes are becoming more conservative.

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