Two women whipped six times at Terengganu Syariah High Court

Two women whipped six times at Terengganu Syariah High Court

Gay sex is banned in the country, which groups it together with bestiality in a list of offences which are "against the order of nature".

Calling it an "appalling day" for human rights in Malaysia, another activist called the act atrocious. As the sentences of the two women did not include imprisonment, they were not considered prisoners as defined by the Prison Act and Prison Regulations. "There's a growing atmosphere of persecution, and Malaysians are scared", said Chhoa-Howard.

Leading up to the execution, news circulated on social media with some parties calling on members of the public to attend the session in support of state action against the LGBT community.

"The fact that they're focusing on this instead is very worrying", said the researcher.

"These inconsistencies create confusion in the jurisdiction of the Prison Department thus directly affecting the rights of women in Malaysia protected by Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution against gender discrimination", they said.

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. Observing from the courtroom public gallery, it was evident that the strength of caning of the two women differed, as one person was clearly caned harder than the other.

Around 100 people are said to have looked on while the pair, aged 22 and 32, were punished by the country's Sharia High Court.

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"People should not live in fear because of who they are who they love - the Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments, and ratify the UN Convention against Torture".

It was the first conviction for same-sex relations and the first time a caning had been carried out in public in the state, Reuters quoted Satiful Bahri Mamat, a member of the Terengganu state executive council, as saying. "Corporal punishment is a form of torture regardless of your intention", she said.

The case has not only prompted outrage among rights organizations, it has also cast a spotlight on what activists say is an increasing climate of hostility and discrimination against the LGBT community in Malaysia.

"The punishment was shocking and it was a spectacle", Thilaga Sulathireh, an activist from the Malaysian rights group Justice for Sisters told The Guardian.

JFS had already called the punishment "a gross violation" of the women's "dignity and human rights", which, the group added, "amounts to torture".

Police officers line up at Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia May 5, 2018. 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".

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