An Islamic body in Malaysia has issued a ruling that bans lesbian sex or other “masculine” activities for female Muslims.

The National National Fatwa Council’s ruling could have legal ramifications in the country, which is 60% Muslim.

“It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including dressing in the clothes men wear,” council chair Abdul Shukor said yesterday.

“(Masculine behaviour) 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 which met today have decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned.”

Homosexuality is not specified as a crime in Malaysia, but Section 377 of the penal code prohibits sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The same law is still in force in other former British colonies, such as India and Singapore.

There is also a prohibition on “gross indecency with another male person,” with up to two years in prison for those found guilty.

Cross-dressing is illegal under public decency laws.

Malaysia is governed by two different kinds of court – Sharia courts to govern Muslim civil matters and the state’s secular courts, which apply to the 40% Malaysians who are not Muslim.

It has been reported that yesterday’s ruling may lead to the criminalisation of lesbian sexual acts.

Last year a Sharia court in Malaysia annulled a marriage between a two women, one of whom is transgender.

The court, in southern Malacca, said Mohamad Sofian Mohamad and Zaiton Aziz would have to separate because Mohamad Sofian had female genitals, despite her male attire and close cropped hair.

Originally named Mazinah Mohamad, she was allowed to change her name due to an administrative oversight and the couple married in a Malacca mosque in 2002.

But the bride’s family soon filed a lawsuit against the couple on the basis that the groom was actually a woman.