11:54am UK, Friday October 24, 2008
Lesbianism has been banned under an edict issued by clerics in Malaysia who ruled that "tomboy" behaviour was against Islam.
The clerics believe lesbian behaviour goes against their religion
The National Fatwa Council also forbade the practice of girls behaving or dressing like boys.
Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the council, said many young women admire the way men dress and behave - and branded it a denial of their femininity and a violation of human nature.
He said: "It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including dressing in the clothes men wear.
"It becomes clearer when they start to have sex with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman.
"In view of this, the National Fatwa Council have decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned."
They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls.Harussani Idris Zakaria, member of Malaysia's National Fatwa Council
Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress, walk and act like boys.
Male homosexuality - specifically sodomy - is illegal in Malaysia and punishable with up to 20 years in jail.
Accusations of sodomy have twice been levelled against the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in what he says are politically motivated attempts to destroy him.
But lawyers say there is no provision banning lesbian sex in Malaysia's civil code.
The latest fatwa appears to be an attempt to push lesbianism towards illegality.
Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state, said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because their actions are "immoral".
He said: "It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong. It is a sin."