A gay couple were publicly flogged in the Aceh province of Indonesia earlier today.
The two men were flogged 80 times for having gay sex, which is forbidden under local Muslim law.
In total, 15 people were publicly punished for “inappropriate behaviour,” including infractions such as drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public.
While Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, the Aceh province is the only province in the country to implement Sharia law.
The province officials pledged to stop public demonstrations of the practice after another case of public flogging drew international outrage last year, however, the floggings remain.
According to AFP, the two men were the second gay couple to endure the punishment this year. Public flogging is a common occurrence in the region. It covers all sorts of crimes, including gambling, sex out of wedlock and the consumption of alcohol.
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1,000 bystanders watched and encouraged the men carrying out the punishment, asking them to “flog them harder.” This included tourists from Malaysia.
According to Human Rights Watch, the local Sharia law “empowers members of the public as well as the special Sharia police to publicly identify and detain anyone suspected of violating its rules.”
- A gay couple aged 20 and 23, were found guilty of having broken sharia rules in conservative Aceh province in 2017. (CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty)
An earlier case of public flogging outraged the international community in 2017. Two young men had been sentenced to received 85 floggings. Their flat was raided by vigilantes.
Human Rights Watch then called for Aceh to abandon Sharia law and for Indonesia’s President Jokowi Widodo to condemn the practice.
“The clock is ticking for Jokowi to demonstrate that his support of equal rights for all is not empty rhetoric. He needs to start by protecting these two young men from torture,” said Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director.
“Jokowi needs to be clear to Aceh’s authorities that flogging is torture for which they will be held to account,” he added.
The two men, respectively 20 and 23 years old, were still flogged in public. It was the first time that gay men were flogged for having consensual sex in Indonesia.
Widodo said he was a supporter of the LGBT community and called for the practice to cease. While officials in the province said they would abandon public floggings and continue the practice in prisons, they are yet to deliver.
In 2016, the then-deputy mayor warned locals of the “LGBT threat” and vowed to create a special team to “train” members of the LGBT community to return to “normal lives.”