Persecuting lesbian sex will only lead to a wave of homophobia

LETTER | The Malaysian authorities should reject the case against two women for same-sex relationships before their planned caning on 28 August 2018.

A court convicted the two on August 12 of violating a state law that criminalises sex between women and each condemns up to six strokes of the stick and a fine of RM 3,300.

The Malaysian government should ban the punishment of caning, which is torture according to international human rights law.

"The planned caning of two women is the latest blow to the LGBT community in Malaysia, which had hoped for better protection under the new government of the country," said Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT ) rights program on Human Rights Watch.

"This persecution and punishment will only feed the recent wave of homophobia and transphobia in Malaysia."

According to the constitution of Malaysia, each state is authorized to issue laws that are violated by Muslims in relation to Islamic rules of life. The state of Terengganu, like most other states in Malaysia, prohibits sexual relations between women, or musahaqah.

Local media quoted the prosecutor in the case by saying that this is the first time that women have been released for same-sex relationships in the state.

Caning is considered a cruel and inhumane punishment under international law and should be abolished.

The criminalization of sexual relations between women also violates Malaysia's obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), which Malaysia ratified in 1995.

At the close of Malaysia's latest Cedaw survey in March 2018, the Cedaw Committee called on Malaysia to "amend all laws that discriminate against LBTI women, including the provisions of the Penal Code and the Syaria laws governing sex. for the same sex between women and children criminalize -dress, "and" to ban the beating of women as a form of punishment. "

The case comes at a time when the position of the new government on the rights of LGBTs in Malaysia is under attack.

On 8 August, the Minister of Religious Affairs ordered the removal of portraits of a transgender rights activist and a LGBT rights activist from an exhibition of photos of Malaysians at the George Town Festival, stating the government's policy: "no promotion of LGBT rights. "

Secretary of State Fuziah Salleh of the Prime Minister defended the action by saying that LGBT people are undesirable as "role models for their children." A mufti, or Islamic lawyer from Penang, compared LGBT activism with fighting "for the freedom of animals. "

In addition to the discriminatory state-sharia (Islamic) laws, Section 377A of the Criminal Code, a British colonial remnant & carnage community outlaws the order of nature & # 39 ;, defined as oral or anal community between a man and another person of any gender, punishable up to 20 years in prison and a flogging.

Section 377D of the Penal Code also prohibits "any act of gross indecency with another person" – historically intended to refer to homosexual behavior – punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

"The new government of Malaysia must oppose discrimination and brutality and promote a culture of tolerance and equality," said Reid. "As part of that effort, it should try to abolish all laws against the same sexual behavior and put an end to the cruel practice of caning once and for all."

The opinions expressed here are those of the author / employee and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Malaysiakini.

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