United Kingdom condemns the caning of lesbian couple in Malaysia as “deeply concerning”

Last month, the news of a lesbian couple being caned in Malaysia drew widespread criticism.

At the time, it was reported that this was the country’s first conviction and punishment for same-sex relations. The caning immediately drew criticism from within the country.

“This is a terrible day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher.

And Charles Santiago, a Malaysian MP also condemned the punishment, calling it a “violation of international human rights.” He wrote: “We need to stop targeting the LGBT 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.”

A few days after the caning took place, Malaysia’s prime minister,  Mahathir Bin Mohamad, criticised the caning, saying that it did “not reflect the ideals of justice and compassion of Islam.”

However, he added that the couple “should’ve been given advice” as this was only the first time they had been convicted.

Related: Malaysia’s prime minister says that his country cannot accept LGBTQ rights

And now, a month after the caning took place the United Kingdom has condemned the punishment. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a minister in the Foreign Office was answering a question from a Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Scriven when he condemned the punishment.

In response to Lord Scriven’s question, Lord Ahmad said: “The government was deeply concerned by the caning of two Malaysian women on 3 September for having a same-sex relationship.

“Our High Commissioner to Malaysia wrote to the Chief Minister of Terengganu to convey UK views on the criminalisation of homosexuality, on the sentence of caning and made an appeal for clemency.

“Our High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur has also tweeted her disappointment on the sentence.”

Lord Ahmad continued, saying: “We engage regularly with government, states, and civil society in Malaysia on human rights, including the rights of the LGBT community. The UK opposes all corporal punishment and any other forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, in any circumstances, anywhere around the world.”

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