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Two Men Receive 77 Lashes Each For Gay Sex in Indonesia

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Two men were publicly caned in Indonesia earlier today for violating local religious laws forbidding same-sex sexual relations. The men, aged 27 and 29, received 77 lashes each in front of dozens of onlookers at Banda Aceh’s Tamansari Park in the deeply conservative Aceh province. A Shariah court had earlier handed down the sentences after neighbors reported the pair to Islamic religious police. Aceh is the only province in the country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by religious courts.

"These canings under Shariah law are symptomatic of the increased Islamification of Indonesia and rising levels of anti-LGBT+ repression,” noted LGBTQ+ activist and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Attitude. “It is a tragedy the way a previously mostly tolerant Muslim country has become so intolerant, largely as a result of escalating religious fundamentalism.”

According to ABC News, the province’s acting Shariah police chief, Heru Triwijanarko, said the men were arrested last November after neighbors burst into their rented room and caught them having sex. A Shariah court sentenced them to 80 strokes each, but they received three less strokes in compensation for time served in prison. The court could have levied punishments of 100 strokes under the religious law.

Indonesia has taken a conservative turn recently. Last year, lawmakers considered legislation that would have encouraged the use of religious exorcism as a form of gay conversion therapy. Despite such ominous developments, though, Aceh is the only Indonesian province where same-sex sexual relations are specifically illegal. The province received special permission from the government to enforce Shariah law as part of an agreement to end a rebellion in the region in 2015. Since then, Triwijanarko told AFP, the religious laws and rulings are strictly observed in Aceh.

“Islamic Sharia enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms,” he explained.

Meanwhile, activists are calling for an end to caning, noting the practice is recognized as a form of torture under international law.

"Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, which is outlawed under the UN Convention Against Torture 1984,” said Thatchell, adding Indonesia should be reported to “the UN Human Rights Council and tourists should boycott Indonesia over LGBT+ and other human rights abuses.”

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