Gay Men Caned in Indonesia Under Shariah Law

Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province publicly caned two gay men — a total of 77 times each — with rattan sticks.

In Aceh's Tamansari city park, dozens of citizens witnessed the cruel enforcement of sharia law. Human rights activists chided Indonesia's authorities for the sadistic showcase.

Since shariah law took effect in October 2015, when the government conceded to end a deep-rooted separatist insurgence, Indonesia's citizens witnessed the third caning for homosexuality. Sharia law is practiced only in Aceh province.

The homosexual men were caned in public after vigilantes detained them. Aged 27 and 29, the two men were arrested in November after a crowd of residents invaded their rented room, where they were purportedly discovered having a sexual encounter. Originally the men were sentenced to 80 strokes by a shariah court weeks ago. But instead, the court flogged the men 77 times since they already served some prison time.

The men pleaded for the caning to stop as they winced in pain. One of the men's mother fainted as she watched, according to the news agency AFP.
The local shariah code allocates up to 100 strikes with a cane for morality offenses, including gay sex. Caning is also the prescribed punishment for adultery, drinking, gambling, women who wear tight clothes, and men who skip prayers on Friday.

Four other people suffered 17 lashes for extra-marital sex and 40 lashes for consuming alcohol.

The deputy director of the Asian division Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, condemned Aceh’s authorities for the excruciating torment. “[The authorities] must be universally condemned for this brutal, absolutely medieval punishment for an act that should never have been criminalized in the first place,” he said. Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, failed to stop the inhumane abuse, Robertson added.

Except for Aceh, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia. However, its reticent LGBTQ community has faced heightened discrimination in recent years. Police increasingly target LGBTQ citizens under a pornography law that critics argue is discriminatory.

Opinions among Acehnese are still a world away from any tolerance of LGBT communities. Devi Arinah, a 53-year-old teacher, said she advocates for caning against homosexual acts.  However, she also believes people should be “given counseling so that they realize that their actions are not suitable for us as believers.”

Another resident, 17-year-old Teguh Khosul commented that if caning does not convert the behavior, then either a cleric should help “rehabilitate” LGBTQ people with religion or expel them from society.


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