Concern grows for lesbian couple after arrest and interrogation
The two women have been forced to undergo “rehabilitation for lesbianism”.
Human rights advocates have voiced concern for two teenage girls arrested in Indonesia.
Police arrested the teenagers – known only as AS and N – after they were caught hugging in the Aceh province of the country.
The area is governed by strict Sharia law, which means the girls could face caning, prison or a large fine.
Human rights groups have voiced concern after news broke that the couple had confessed to their ‘crime’ after intense questioning – and will now be sent for rehabilitation.
While Shariah police chief Evendi Latief admitted that the pair had confirmed they were lesbians during four days of questioning, he denied their human rights had been violated.
“They will undergo rehabilitation which involves psychologists from local Social Ministry office,” he said.
However, Graeme Reid from Human Rights Watch claimed the arrest and subsequent treatment of the girls exhibited an “outrageous abuse of power”.
“The arrest of two women in Aceh for everyday behaviour is an outrageous abuse of power that should be considered a threat to all Indonesians.”
“The Indonesian government needs to press Aceh to repeal its discriminatory new bylaws,” he added.
LGBT people are regularly targeted by authorities in the area – just last month, ten trans women were arrested for ‘cross-dressing’, before being forced to leave.
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Aceh is the only province in the Muslim-majority country that operates strict Sharia law.
Gay sex is punishable in the region by a hundred lashes – after a controversial new law was introduced last year.
The law states anyone engaging in homosexuality should be punished with 100 months in jail, 100 lashes, or a fine equivalent to 1,000 grammes of gold.
Homosexuality is legal in the rest of Indonesia, though the age of consent for gay sex is higher than for straight sex.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population – but outside of the Aceh, most practice a more moderate form of the faith.