Two women punished for attempting to have sex in a car
Two women were caned in front of 100 people in a Malaysian courtroom for attempting to take part in lesbian sex ( Getty )
The Malaysian prime minister has said the public caning of a lesbian couple had “tarnished Islam’s reputation”.
Two Muslim women, 22 and 32, were arrested and sentenced for attempting to have sex in a car.
They were caned six times each in front of more than 100 people, including members of their own family.
The prime minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad, has attacked the public caning and said it tarnished Islam’s reputation as a merciful and compassionate religion.
Under both religious and secular laws, homosexual activity is illegal but this is the state’s first conviction for same-sex relations and the first public caning, the BBC reported.
Mr Mahathir said the caning “did not reflect the justice or compassion of Islam”.
He said in a video on social media that the women could have been given a lighter sentence and counselling as it was their first offence.
Islamic officials defended the caning, saying it was not meant to hurt the women, but was intended to educate them so they will repent.
Human rights organisations have condemned the sentencing – the latest in a string of incidents in a country that appears to be growing less tolerant of LGBT+ people.
“This is a terrible day for LGBTQ rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, an Amnesty International researcher for southeast Asia.
“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.”