Agencies (Qasioun) - Two Malaysian women were caned Monday for having lesbian sex in violation of strict Islamic laws, sparking outrage from activists at the "inhuman and degrading" punishment.
The women, dressed in white dresses and Muslim headscarves, were each given six strokes as they sat on stools in a sharia court, with one of them breaking down in tears.
Campaigners said it was the first time women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a sharia regulation which forbids same-sex relations. They said the case highlights the worsening climate for gay people in the Muslim-majority country.
The country operates a dual-track legal system. Islamic courts can handle religious and family matters for Muslim citizens, as well as cases such as adultery.
The women, aged 22 and 32, were arrested in April by Islamic enforcement officers after they were found in a car in a public square in the northern state of Terengganu, one of the country's most conservative areas.
The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, pleaded guilty last month to breaking Islamic laws and were sentenced to be whipped and fined 3,300 ringgit ($800).
They were caned at the Sharia High Court in the state capital Kuala Terengganu.
A judge read out their sentence just before 10:00 am (0300 GMT) and then officials meted out the punishment using thin canes in front of a packed courtroom, according to a journalist in the court.
The younger woman sobbed but the elder one showed no reaction.