The decision of the Kuala Terengganu Syariah Court to publicly cane two women for committing sexual relations has been criticised as “hateful and unjust'” by the Malaysian Prime Minister.
Two women, aged 32 and 22 were caned in a courtroom in Kuala Terengganu on 3 September after the two had pleaded guilty to having sexual relations.
In a video posted on his official Twitter account Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Pakatan Harapan cabinet discussed the sentence meted out by the Syariah Court and explained that it did not reflect the values of Islam at all.
“It was understood that the two women had committed the offence for the first time.”
“Islam being a tolerant religion, those women should have been given a lighter sentence and perhaps offered advice instead of inhumanely being caned in public,” he said.
Dr Mahathir stressed that the decision of the Syariah Court to have caned the women without considering alternative punishments makes Islam look bad.
“Islam is not a hateful religion that wants to punish and scare people. This is not at all the way of Islam.”
“In future we need to be careful to ensure that Islam is not portrayed as an intolerant religion. We should not make it seem like Islam is unkind,” he said adding that it was the common sentiment of the entire Pakatan Harapan cabinet.
On 12 August, the Syariah High Court fined the two women a sum of US$797 and ordered for them to be caned six times each for committing an offence under Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment.
Following the caning of the women, the presiding judge had said that it would serve as a lesson to all others who would consider committing same-sex relationships.
The caning was witnessed by 150 people.
Despite being a ‘developing country’, Malaysia’s Syariah laws run simultaneously with the Federal Constitution and take an extremely conservative approach when it comes to LGBT issues.
Despite being criticised as ‘backwards and conservative’, India decriminalised consensual gay sex on Thursday. Its Supreme Court in overturned a 150 year old colonial-era law; a major victory for India’s LGBT activists.
Section 377, an archaic law imposed during the British rule penalised intercourse “against the order of nature” and had carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Source: Manveena Suri/CNN-Wire