PETALING JAYA: In the wake of the public caning of two women found guilty of attempting to have same-sex relations, one Member of Parliament is asking for laws that criminalise homosexuality to be immediately repealed.
“We need to stop targeting the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) 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.
“The new Pakatan Harapan government, which was voted in on the premise of inclusion, must therefore repeal all laws that criminalise homosexuality without any delay.
“And this is because we really need to make sure that no one is publicly caned, let alone because of their sexuality,” said Klang MP Charles Santiago in a statement Monday.
Earlier Monday, two women aged 32 and 22 were sentenced to six strokes of the cane for attempting to have sex in a car at Dataran Arena Square, Dungun, at 1.50pm on April 8.
They were also fined RM3,300 or four months' jail if they failed to pay the fine.
The women were charged under Section 30 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu) 2001 which was read together with Section 59(1) for lesbianism.
The two women were given the opportunity to appeal the caning sentence within 14 days but did not do so.
The public caning has sent shockwaves through civil society, with many NGOs questioning the severity of the sentence and the fact that it goes against civil law, which does not allow women to be caned.
“It’s shocking that two women have been caned for attempting to engage in a sexual act in a car, in Terengganu, while 100 witnesses gawked at them,” said Santiago in his statement.
“This is a form of torture and outrageous as it was meted out to humiliate them and their families.
“It also goes against the spirit of Malaysia wanting to ratify the Convention against Torture this year.
“Furthermore, criminalising consensual sex between these two adults is a violation of international human rights law, not to mention that Malaysia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw),” he added.
Santiago also noted that that has been a rise in anti-LGBT sentiments over the last few months, referring to the violent assault on a transgender woman by eight men last month, among others.