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Five Malaysians Sentenced to Caning, Jail for Attempting Gay Sex

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The South Asian nation appears to be continuing a crackdown on its LGBTQ population.

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Five Malaysian men Thursday received penalties of caning, jail time, and fines for attempting to have same-sex relations.

The Selangor Shariah High Court, a Muslim religious body, sentenced four of the men to six strokes of the cane and six months in jail, while imposing a fine of 4,800 ringgit ($1,163), Reuters reports, citing Malay-language newspaper Harian Metro. The fifth man received a sentence of seven months and six caning strokes, along with a 4,900 ringgit fine.

The men were all charged with "attempting intercourse against the order of nature," according to the Malaysian paper. They had been arrested along with seven others in a raid on an apartment near Kuala Lumpur, the capital city, in November 2018. Five of the others arrested at the time will be sentenced November 19.

"The facts show that there was an attempt to carry out intercourse outside of the order of nature and that it was not in the early stages of preparation," Judge Mohamad Asri Mohamad Tahir said in court.

LGBTQ rights activist Numan Afifi, who was present at the hearing, called the sentences "outrageous" and said they would stoke fear in the community. "It's a gross injustice and terrible for our country," he told Agence France-Presse.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, has both secular and Islamic legal systems, but sodomy is a crime under both, although convictions are rare. The nation seems to have stepped up enforcement of anti-LGBTQ laws, however, as two women were caned last year for attempting to have sex with each other. In 2018 there was also a raid on a gay nightclub in Kuala Lumpur, and the patrons arrested were ordered to undergo counseling. The nation has seen brutal attacks on transgender and gender-nonconforming people as well.

Afifi was named to a government position last year but forced to resign within days after public outcry. This year he testified to the United Nations Human Rights Council about state-sponsored violence and discrimination in Malaysia, and police in his nation responded by interrogating him. The country's tourism minister has claimed there are no LGBTQ people in Malaysia.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.