Authorities in Malaysia's north-eastern state of Terengganu on Monday caned two women for attempting to have sex.
Campaigners said it was the first time women in Malaysia have been caned for violating a sharia regulation which forbids same-sex relations.
The women, who were convicted of "sexual relations between women", were each struck six times with a rattan cane in front of witnesses in the Sharia High Court in the state of Terengganu, officials said.
About 150 people were present in the courtroom, watching as a lady officer from Kajang Women's Prison carried out the sentence with a cane measuring about a metre.
Malaysia has a dual track legal system where sharia courts can handle religious and family matters.
Muslim Lawyers' Association deputy president Abdul Rahim Sinwan defended the caning of the two unidentified women, insisting that the punishment under Islamic law isn't painful and was meant to teach the women to repent.
He said there were fears among both Muslims and non-Muslims over efforts to implement the shariah.
"This is a bad day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia", Amnesty International's Malaysia Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a statement.
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Malaysian women's groups Justice for Sisters and Sisters in Islam called for a review of laws that allowed the caning of women. The most shocking fact was also that the duo were caned in public among hundred of onlookers.
However, he also told parliament that the government is concerned about the "spread of the LGBT lifestyle", and has reportedly spoken about camps and seminars for LGBT people, according to Human Rights Watch.
Human rights activists reacted with outrage. It's not about the severity of the caning.
But, she continued: "As long as draconian legislation which criminalises Malaysians based on their sexual orientation and gender identity remains on the books, LGBTI people will continue to be at risk of this type of punishment".
"The Malaysian authorities must immediately repeal repressive laws, outlaw torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention Against Torture", the group said.
"It did not look forceful and we are satisfied because proper procedure was followed in which the caning did not break the skin", said association deputy president Fazru Anuar Yusof. And that mercy is preferable to punishment, " opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted.
Concerns have been mounting in recent weeks in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic country where some 60 percent of the population is Muslim, about a deteriorating climate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Earlier last month, a minister ordered that portraits of LGBT activists be removed from a public exhibition.
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