KJ slams public caning of lesbians, says Islam preaches mercy

KJ slams public caning of lesbians, says Islam preaches mercy

Kerry Wise
September 5, 2018

One of the two women found guilty of same-sex relations by the Terengganu shariah court and caned along with another woman yesterday.

The Save Malaysian LGBT Community, which has more than 3,000 followers on Facebook, told PinkNews that these latest developments were "really worrying".

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Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with civil law applying to everybody, but Islamic criminal and family laws applicable to Muslims.

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.

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

The two women, aged 22 and 32, were caned six times each in the Terengganu sharia high court just after 10am, after the sentence was read out.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International's Malaysia researcher, said the women's sentences are a reminder of the "depth of discrimination and criminalization" that LGBT people face in the country, and a sign that the new government that promised reform condones "degrading" punishments like its predecessor.

They said the case highlights the worsening climate for gay people in the Muslim-majority country.

Amnesty International called the caning "a bad day" for human rights.

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"People should not live in fear because they are attracted to people of the same sex". The most shocking fact was also that the duo were caned in public among hundred of onlookers.

"Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being".

"Not only for LGBT people but all persons because corporal punishment affects all people", Sulathireh said.

Human rights organizations have condemned both the use of caning as a punishment and the fact that someone's sexual preference could be treated as a crime.

Unlike caning under civil laws, the punishment used under Islamic laws isn't meant to serve as a lesson rather than being painful or harsh, according to Sinwan.

Lawmaker Charles Santiago called on the government to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality.

"Sexual acts between two consenting adults should not be criminalised, let alone punished with whipping", Women's Aid Organisation said.

The country, whose population is around 60 percent Muslim, has seen a recent rise in Islamic conservativism, with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Malaysia regularly subjected to discrimination and hostility.

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.