Two women have reportedly been arrested in the outskirts of the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bahru on charges of violating Shariah codes on same-sex sexual activity, Buzzfeed reports:
Reports by the Malaysian newspaper Sinar Harian suggest the two women were swept up in a broad morality raid launched around the Southeast Asian country’s annual celebration of its independence from Great Britain. The police had gone to what news reports identified as a “budget hotel” and arrested seven apparently heterosexual couples in other rooms for violating laws against adultery and “close proximity.” The police arrested the two women — both identified as university students — under a code criminalizing sex between women after finding a dildo in their room.
Malaysian women's rights group Sisters in Islam issued a statement defending the two women:
Citing section 26 of the Johor Syariah enactment, SIS legal officer Rashidi Abd Rahim argued that prosecutors must prove that the act had actually taken place.
Rashidi said that based on the report by Sinar Harian, one of the suspects, who was fully clothed, had opened the door, while another was naked in the bathroom.
The news report, Rashidi pointed out, failed to show any criminal element.
It is believed this may be the first time a female couple has been arrested under the country's prohibition on sodomy. The women face three months in jail, six lashes, and a fine equal to around $1,500.
Back in 2012, the Malaysian government began holding seminars aimed at helping teachers and parents "spot signs of homosexuality' so that "preventive action" could be taken.