Malaysian parliamentary ministers say it’s time for the country to “grow up” after the caning of two Lesbian women over attempting sexual relations which spurred international outrage.
“We need to stop targeting the LGBT community. We need to stop invading their privacy. We need to stop abusing them. We need to grow up as a society and learn to embrace diversity,” Selango’s parliamentary minister Charles Santiago tweeted.
Santiago said the current administration was “voted in on the premise of inclusion” and those homophobic laws criminalizing LGBT rights must be repealed.
The women, aged 32 and 22, had pleaded guilty last month to attempting lesbian sex, forbidden under Islamic law. They were sentenced to a fine and six lashings of the cane.
The sentence was carried out in front of about 100 people at the Sharia High Court in Terengganu, a conservative state ruled by the Islamist opposition party Pan-Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS), according to a report by English-language daily the New Straits Times.
A Terengganu executive council member, Satiful Bahri Mamat said, “It is more to educate than to harm or hurt. I believe we may have received harsher canings when we were in school.”
Segambut Parliamentary minister, Hannah Yeoh, retorted, “Education doesn’t work this way.”
While from his personal Twitter account, Khairy Jamaluddin PM for Rembau criticized the colonial-era legislation, saying, “Islam teaches us to look after the dignity of every human being...Mercy is preferable to punishment.”
President of the Malaysian Bar, George Varughese, condemned the “barbaric” sentence as a violation of the international human rights law, which frowns on corporal punishment as a form of torture.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is routinely persecuted in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where they are seen as a threat to conservative values.