May 24, 2017 – Responding to news that two men have been caned 83 times each for having sex with each other in Indonesia’s Aceh province, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:
“This sickening spectacle, carried out in front of more than a thousand jeering spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty. These two men had their privacy forcefully invaded when they were ambushed inside their own home, and their ‘punishment’ today was designed to humiliate as well as physically injure them.
“The authorities in Aceh and Indonesia must immediately repeal the law which imposes these punishments, which constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture.
While same-sex relationships are not illegal throughout most of Indonesia, they are banned in Aceh province, and LGBT people are facing persecution throughout the country. 141 men were recently arrested in Jakarta for attending what police described as a “gay sex party.” 76 countries in the world criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex, according to Amnesty International.
“We are deeply concerned about attacks on LGBT people around the world, including the floggings in Indonesia and the murders of gay men in Chechnya. Governments who target LGBT people for discrimination and violence are violating their human rights, and they must stop,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “This is a moment for the United States to show leadership on human rights, when the safety and lives of LGBT people are at stake. The President and the State Department should immediately demand that these governments respect the human rights of LGBT people.”
The two men were arrested on 28 March 2017 and charged with consensual same-sex sexual relations (liwath) under the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code. They were sentenced to 85 strokes each by the Banda Aceh Shari’a Court on 17 May, but the number was reduced because they had spent two months in detention.
Shari’a bylaws have been in force in Aceh since the enactment of the province’s Special Autonomy Law in 2001, and are enforced by Islamic courts.
This is the first time gay men have been caned under Shari’a law in the province.
Consensual same-sex relations are not treated as crimes under the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP).