Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global
This post was updated on Sept. 3, 2018.
Two Malaysian women accused of ‘attempting lesbian sex’ were publicly caned on Sept. 3 and fined approximately $800 dollars each. While the women were initially set to be caned on August 28, the punishment was postponed to Sept. 3.
This was the first time a punishment of this nature was carried out in such a public way in Malaysia, with approximately 100 spectators and members of the media witnessing the barbaric spectacle.
In response, HRC released the following statement:
“The caning of these two women was barbaric, inhumane and violated their most fundamental human rights," said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. "We are alarmed by the rising tide of discrimination, persecution and violence against Malaysia's LGBTQ community. Trends like this highlight the need for the White House to take greater leadership in trying to stop this and other anti-LGBTQ atrocities around the world -- from Indonesia to Egypt to Chechnya. We stand in solidarity with Malaysia's LGBTQ community and demand that the Trump-Pence administration speak up for the human rights of all people, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
Justice for Sisters, a Malaysian advocacy group, and nine civil society groups issued a joint statement after the initial sentencing, condemning it as tantamount to torture. The statement also said that the harsh sentence violates both the Malaysian constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“There is no justification for the deliberate humiliation, harm and degradation that took place in the Terengganu Court today,” said the organization in a statement.
The statements go on to criticize the criminalization of consensual same-sex relations between adults in Malaysia under Section 377 of its penal code. Malaysia is one of 72 countries around the world to criminalize same-sex relations.
As in neighboring Indonesia, LGBTQ people in Malaysia face a rising tide of discrimination, persecution and violence. Last month, police raided a gay club in Kuala Lumpur. The raid followed comments by the deputy prime minister that LGBTQ ‘practices’ should be kept behind closed doors. A few weeks ago, two LGBTQ activists’ portraits were removed from an art exhibition on the orders of the religious affairs minister.
HRC urges individuals around the world to stand in solidarity with Malaysian advocates fighting for the safety and dignity of LGBTQ people in the country.
For more information about HRC’s work around the globe, please click here.