KUALA LUMPUR – Five Malaysian men were sentenced to jail and canings today by an Islamic court for attempting to have gay sex, reports and an activist said.
There have been growing concerns in the Muslim-majority country about the worsening climate for the homosexual community, and the verdicts follow the caning last year of two women for lesbian sex.
An Islamic court in Selangor state, outside Kuala Lumpur, sentenced four of the men to six months in jail and six strokes of the cane as well as fines of RM4,800, newspaper Harian Metro reported.
Another man was sentenced to seven months jail, six strokes of the cane and an RM4,900 fine, the paper said.
The group, who were caught in an apartment outside Kuala Lumpur in November last year, were reportedly convicted of attempting to have intercourse against the order of nature, a crime under Islamic laws.
Gay rights activist Numan Afifi, who attended the court hearing, told AFP the sentences would create a “culture of fear”, adding: “It’s a gross injustice and terrible for our country”.
Malaysia operates a dual-track legal system, with Islamic courts handling some matters for Muslim citizens.
AFP could not immediately contact court officials or the men’s lawyers.
Critics say there is growing pressure on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Malaysia.
As well as the caning of the two women last year under shariah law, the Islamic affairs minister has spoken out against homosexuals and ordered pictures of LGBT activists to be removed from a public exhibition.
Sodomy is a crime under Malaysia’s regular criminal code as well as under Islamic law, but it is rare for people to be found guilty of the crime.