Four individuals have been sentenced on November 07, to an RM4,800 fine, six months’ imprisonment and six strokes of the cane, while another individual was sentenced to a RM4,900 fine, seven months’ imprisonment and six strokes of the cane by the Selangor Syariah (Sharia) High Court.
The men, all members of the LGBTI community, were convicted of “attempt of sexual intercourse against the order of nature” following a raid and arbitrary arrests made at a private event held last year.
Five more individuals who pleaded not guilty await trial, which is scheduled for November 19.
Calling it an alarming attack on Malaysian LGBTI people, Amnesty International said the sentencing of five men to imprisonment and caning by the Selangor Syariah High Court on grounds of attempted sexual intercourse “against the order of nature”must be overturned immediately.
“This vicious sentence handed down to five men for allegedly seeking consensual, same sex relations is a despicable attack on LGBTI people. Caning is absolutely prohibited under international law, and in Malaysia it is often carried out with such ferocity that it amounts to torture. It is deeply shocking to see it used at all – let alone for alleged acts that should never be illegal,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Researcher on Malaysia at Amnesty International.
A director from the Malaysian religious department, JAIS, said that after monitoring the men on messaging app WeChat, its officials conducted a sting operation involving more than 50 law enforcement officers on 16 people.
According to NumanAfifi, President of PELANGI Campaign, an LGBTI organization in Malaysia, those arrested were not represented by a lawyer or provided with legal aid at the time they pleaded guilty to their charges, in violation of their right to a fair trial.
LGBTI people in Malaysia face discrimination and criminalisation under existing laws. Both common law and Syariah law systems criminalise same-sex relationships.
“Malaysia is increasingly unsafe for LGBTI people. Since this government came to power, promising human rights reforms, this is the second time the authorities have handed down this heinous punishment,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard. (Source: Amnesty International)