The recent fining and canning of two women in Malaysia is a sharp reminder of the fact that there are still many countries around the globe where homosexuality is illegal that, not only stigmatise gay people but actually have severe punishments should they be caught.
On the Wednesday 12th August 2018, the Terengganu Shari's High Court sentenced two women to be fined RM3,300 (£633) and to be canned six times each after being convicted of attempting to have consensual same-sex relations in a car. The sentence was carried out in a courtroom in Terengganu state in front of government officials and family members. The BBC reports that this is the country's first ever conviction for same-sex relations and its first public caning.
However, whilst homosexuality remains illegal, there were several members of Malaysian parliament who expressed outrage at the punishment, including Charles Santiago, an MP from the Malaysian state of Selangor, who called it a "violation of international human rights". He further commented: "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."
There are 73 countries in which it is illegal to be gay, 37 of them in the Commonwealth. The punishments vary from the death penalty in the shape of hanging, beheading and stoning to lengthy prison sentences. In some countries these penalties are never or rarely enforced. In Papua New Guinea, for example, the punishment for homosexuality is up to 14 years in prison, however despite this the Sambia people of the Eastern Highlands and Etoro people of the Southern slopes practice ritualized homosexuality. The Sambia people recognise transgender male to...