Current Affairs

Gay men will no longer be whipped in public in Indonesia

Josh Jackman April 16, 2018
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Gay sex in Indonesia will not be publicly punished with lashings anymore – but men will still receive the punishment behind closed doors.

Aceh, the only region of the secular country where Sharia law is in effect, will continue to conduct the barbaric practice, which saw two men caned 83 times last year for consensual sex.

Earlier this month, a gay man and transgender woman were arrested for ‘having gay sex,’ and face a similar punishment.

A religious officer canes an Acehnese youth onstage as punishment for dating outside of marriage, which is against sharia law, outside a mosque in Banda Aceh on August 1, 2016. The strictly Muslim province, Aceh has become increasingly conservative in recent years and is the only one in Indonesia implementing Sharia law. / AFP / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Two university students are also being detained before going on trial for having gay sex in Aceh.

The 21 and 24 year old were arrested on Thursday after vigilantes forced their way into a room where the men were allegedly having sex.

Marzuki, head of the Aceh Provincial Sharia Law Department, told local reporters that one of the men had allegedly confessed to the charges after residents handed over mobiles, condoms and a mattress as evidence.

A religious officer canes an Acehnese man (R) 100 times for having sex outside marriage, which is against sharia law, in Banda Aceh on November 28, 2016. Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law. People can face floggings for a range of offences -- from gambling, to drinking alcohol, to gay sex. / AFP / Chaideer MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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The province was able to institute Sharia law after the government made the concession as part of a 2005 autonomy deal.

The agreement was created to end a bloody decades-long conflict between Muslim separatists and the military in which thousands died.

The current law allows for up to 100 lashes for so-called morality offences.

A group of Muslim protesters march with banners against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Banda Aceh on Decmber 27, 2017. There has been a growing backlash against Indonesia's small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over the past year, with ministers, hardliners and influential Islamic groups lining up to make anti-LGBT statements in public. / AFP PHOTO / Chaideer MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Journalists and adults will still be able to watch the canings, which will take place behind prison walls, according to AFP.

Andreas Harsono, Human Rights Watch’s Indonesia researcher, has said that the lashings mean “Aceh is leading the race to the bottom.”

And Aceh’s governor, Irwandi Yusuf, was clear in saying that the move had been taken to reduce criticism from foreign countries who object to inhumane punishments.

BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - MAY 23: Indonesian gay couple walk as arrive for caning in public from an executor known as 'algojo' for having gay sex, which is against Sharia law at Syuhada mosque on May 23, 2017 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The two young gay men, aged 20 and 23, were caned 85 times each in the Indonesian province of Aceh during a public ceremony after being caught having sex last week. It was the first time gay men have been caned under Sharia law as gay sex is not illegal in most of Indonesia except for Aceh, which is the only province which exercises Islamic law. The punishment came a day after the police arrested 141 men at a sauna in the capital Jakarta on Monday due to suspicion of having a gay sex party, the latest crackdown on homosexuality in the country. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
Gay men in Indonesia being led to be lashed 83 times (Getty)

However, he blamed any opposition to the canings on anti-Islam sentiment.

“This (law) is to muffle protest… to muffle Islamophobia,” said the governor. “We don’t want Islamophobia to interfere with (Indonesia’s) foreign affairs.”

As the new law was passed, a demonstration was held outside the region’s government building – against holding the lashings away from the public.

Flogging in Indonesia
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One demonstrator, Tuwanku Muhammad, said: “If caning is done in prison… we’re sure there will be more Sharia violations in Aceh. Even now, there are… violations.”

While homosexuality has never been illegal in Indonesia, attitudes towards LGBT people have become more extreme across the country in recent years despite a growing gay population.

Indonesian police guard men arrested in a recent raid during a press conference at a police station in Jakarta on May 22, 2017. Indonesian police have detained 141 men who were allegedly holding a gay party at a sauna, an official said on May 22, the latest sign of a backlash against homosexuals in the Muslim-majority country. / AFP PHOTO / FERNANDO (Photo credit should read FERNANDO/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classifies homosexuality, bisexuality and being transgender as illnesses.

There is also a growing movement in the country to ban gay sex.

A bill with the support of most of the country’s main political parties is making its way through the legislative process.

Amendments have been accepted by the House of Representatives, but the whole parliament must sign off on the bill before it makes its way to the president’s desk.

GiveOut is aiming to eliminate the violence in countries where the LGBTQI community is not accepted (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Harsono said that the new law “will create new discriminatory offences that do not exist in the current criminal code.

“It will slow down Indonesia’s efforts to develop their economy, society, knowledge [and] education … if law enforcement agencies are busy policing morality.

“It’s sounding like the Acehnese Sharia code,” he added.

More: Asia, Asia, Gay, gay sex, Indonesia, Indonesia, Islam, Religion, shariah law

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