An Amnesty International press release has condemned the “vicious” caning of four men convicted of “an attempt at sexual intercourse against the order of nature”, warning of an increasing crackdown by the authorities in Malaysia on the country’s LGBT Community.
The press release highlighted how Malaysia’s Selangor Islamic Religious Department had been monitoring activity on messaging app WeChat, leading its officials to conduct an extensive sting operation, which resulted in charges against 11 men arbitrarily arrested at a private event. Five of the men pleaded guilty as charged, with the cases being heard by the Selangor Syariah (Sharia) High Court, resulting in jail sentences of 6-7 months, six strokes of the cane, and a fine for each man. Four of the men have now been caned and then released, pending appeal of their jail sentence. A fifth man has not yet been caned as he is seeking to appeal his entire sentence, including the caning. The remaining six individuals, currently undergoing trial, have all pleaded not guilty.
Amnesty International observed that LGBT people in Malaysia face discrimination and criminalisation, with both common law and Shariah law systems criminalising same-sex relationships, and that Malaysia’s LGBT Community is facing growing discrimination and persecution. In September last year, two women were caned on the orders of the Terengganu Shariah High Court for “sexual relations between women”, sparking international outcry.
Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is absolutely prohibited under international law, and may amount to torture.Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Amnesty Malaysia’s Executive Director, said that “these vicious punishments against LGBTI people are the actual crimes being committed here”, “the whole affair is a scandal and a judicial travesty”, “the authorities should drop charges against the six other men before they suffer the same unjustifiable treatment”, “same-sex relations are not a crime, yet the Malaysian authorities are going to terrible lengths to vilify LGBTI people by exacting these cruel punishments”, “Malaysia should be creating an environment in which LGBTI people are free from discrimination, not ensnaring and beating innocent people”, and “the Malaysian authorities must repeal all repressive laws against LGBTI people, outlaw cruel punishments, and ratify the UN Convention against Torture”.
To read the Amnesty International press release, click here!