Indonesian court sentences two gay men to public caning

Indonesian court sentences two gay men to public caning

Indonesian court sentences two gay men to public caning

A Shariah court yesterday sentenced two men to be publicly caned for gay sex for the first time in Indonesia's Aceh, the latest sign of a backlash against homosexuals in the Muslim-majority country.

They were subsequently found guilty of violating Aceh's strict Islamic laws and were sentenced to 85 lashes, according to Evendi, the head of Sharia law enforcement in Banda Aceh.

Lead judge Khairil Jamal said the men were "legally and convincingly proven to have committed gay sex".

Three years ago, Aceh province enacted a law that punishes anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.

However, a nationwide campaign by conservative civil society groups against homosexuality has culminated in a major case that is now before the country's Constitutional Court, which will decide whether sex outside marriage should be banned throughout Indonesia.

Global human rights groups have condemned the ruling and said it was an abusive and humiliating experience for the men.

The group had called on Indonesia's authorities to release men who face "public torture for the "crime" of their alleged sexual orientation". They are seen being taunted, slapped and kicked as they beseeched the group not to report them to Sharia police in Aceh.

The video was also shared online, which shows one of the men naked.

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Human rights activists called the punishment excessive and a unsafe turn of events in the province.

The sentence was higher than the 80 lashes recommended by prosecutors.

The central government in Jakarta granted Aceh's religious leaders the right to impose sharia-inspired law in 2001 in a deal struck to quell a decades-long separatist movement in the province. They are punishable by public lashing which is considered torture under global law.

"I think it shows the increasing conservative tradition in Indonesia", Mr Harsono told Fairfax Media.

Dede Oetomo, a veteran Indonesian gay rights campaigner, said that Acehnese activists were "all scared".

Caning is also a punishment in Aceh for gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.

While homosexuality has never been illegal in Indonesia, attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years despite a growing gay population. He was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy.

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