Lesbians convicted in first homosexual charge in Terengganu

KUALA LUMPUR: Two local women convicted of attempting to have lesbian sex will be fined and caned, a prosecutor said today in a rare case against gay people in the country.

Islamic enforcement officers in Terengganu found the two Muslim women attempting to engage in sexual acts in a car during patrols in April, according to prosecutor Muhamad Khasmizan Abdullah.

The women were charged under the shariah law known as musahaqah —which bans lesbian sex — and sentenced to six strokes of the cane and a fine of RM3,300 each this week after pleading guilty, the prosecutor said.

The conviction comes amid concerns around growing intolerance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country after activists criticised some officials for making homophobic remarks in recent weeks.

“Sexual intercourse between people of the same sex is forbidden in Islam. It is an offence and morally wrong,” Khasmizan said by phone.

“This verdict is a first for us,” the prosecutor added, saying it was the first time people had been convicted for same-sex relations in Terengganu.

The two women, aged 32 and 22, are on bail pending the execution of the sentence on Aug 28, Khasmizan said, adding that the religious officers who saw the women found one in a state of undress and also discovered a dildo in the car.

“The caning would be carried out within the court premises,” he said. “Under the shariah rules, they will be whipped with a rattan cane on their back with their clothes on while they are seated.”

Thilaga Sulathireh, from rights group Justice for Sisters, condemned the court’s decision as a form of torture. She said there had been previous cases of lesbian couples being arrested, but it was not known if they were convicted.

“Consensual sex between adults is not a crime. This is a precedence and it will increase discrimination toward LGBT people,” she said.

A minister last week ordered the removal of portraits of two LGBT advocates from a public photography exhibition as they promoted gay activities, sparking criticism from rights groups.

Sodomy is a crime which is punishable by up to 20 years in jail, although enforcement of the law is rare.