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Two Women Have Been Sentenced To Caning In Malaysia For Sexual Relations

Malaysia is currently in the midst of a debilitating human rights crisis, one that concerns the security of a large demographic of its society. In Malaysia, homosexuality is illegal under the Sharia law. In light of this, two women in Malaysia have been sentenced with caning and a fine of 3,300 ringgit under the Islamic law for “attempted sexual relations.”
The Shariah Judge, Kamalruazmi Ismail, has been quoted saying, “Adequate punishment must be meted out so that this becomes a lesson and reminder to not just the two of you, but the members of society.”
It is of great concern to see such gross violations of the International Declaration of Human Rights. (Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”). It further propagates the climate of fear and discrimination against the LGBTQ population.
Affinity reached out to human rights organizations to provide a statement on the issue at hand. A press statement released by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to Affinity clearly projects how the commission, “denounces the decision of the Terengganu Syariah Court” and calls on the government to “repeal all laws that impose such punishment.” SUHAKAM identifies that the carrying out of such sentences is prohibited by customary international law and international treaties that Malaysia has acceded too and points out how it is in violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that the Malaysian Government has planned to ratify.
Affinity also reached out to Amnesty International. Gwen Lee, Amnesty International Malaysia’s Interim Executive Director quoted, “This deeply cruel sentence marks yet another severe setback in Malaysia’s treatment of LGBTI people, which is increasingly troubling.”
ILGA Asia provided Affinity with a quote on their stance. “We severely oppose such decisions by the Terengganu Syria Judge. The Malaysian government has the obligation to protect all citizens regardless of sexual orientation, let alone punishing them for consensual sex. This is not the first incident where the LGBTI community is discriminated against since the new government got elected, which leaves us with much doubt about how inclusive the ‘New Malaysia’ that they have been promoting truly is.”
There is no doubt that the decision of the Sharia court has sparked outrage amidst the Human Rights Organizations of Malaysia. There is a common consensus amidst these organizations that such actions are base violations of international human rights. Yet it is saddening to see how despite the unified condemnation of such practices they continue to be protected under the Sharia law.
The two women have a right to appeal yet currently, the sentence is set to be carried out on August 28. I urge every individual to speak out against such malicious practices and share and promote the cause of these humanitarian organizations in order to curtail such atrocities. I further urge you to promote awareness on this humanitarian crisis in Malaysia and express your opinion to the Syariah High Court of Terengganu here. It is our communal responsibility to be the voices that foster change.

Photo Credit: Jordan Mcdonald 

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A 17-year-old from Bangalore with a borderline unhealthy obsession with writing. A bit of a mixed bag, I enjoy poetry, drums, and video games.

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