Gay couple gets 80 lashes for sharia-banned sex in conservative Aceh province

Public caning in Aceh. 2016 AFP FILE PHOTO
Public caning in Aceh. 2016 AFP FILE PHOTO

A gay couple was publicly whipped in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province Friday, despite an earlier pledge by officials to stop the punishment after it drew international criticism.

The two men were flogged more than 80 times each for having gay sex, which is outlawed under local Islamic law, as a jeering crowd hurled abuse at them.

They were among 15 people whipped outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Friday for crimes including drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public.

A crowd of about 1,000 people, including tourists from neighboring Malaysia, snapped pictures and shouted “flog them harder” as a hooded figure rained down lashes from a rattan cane on their backs.

The unidentified men were the second gay couple whipped in public this year in Aceh, underscoring the increasing discrimination faced by Indonesia’s small LGBT community.

Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, that imposes Islamic law.

Public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offenses including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

“Hopefully the flogging we’re witnessing today will serve as a lesson for people not to violate sharia (Islamic law),” said Banda Aceh official Tarmizi Yahya.

Few in the crowd appeared to have much sympathy.

“I don’t think they’re being serious about the flogging — it looks like they are just playing around,” said Bukhari, a fisherman who came to watch with his wife.

“The sharia officer should have flogged them as hard as he could.”

Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, said this year it would stop public whippings but continue the punishment behind prison walls.

The new policy has not yet been implemented.

Rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.

But the practice has wide support among Aceh’s mostly Muslim population, including Aceh’s governor Irwandi Yusuf, who was arrested last week on corruption charges.

It is unlikely that Yusuf — a law and order champion who described criticism of flogging criminals as “Islamophobic” — will face a public caning.

The gay men whipped on Friday were apprehended by a vigilante mob at a Banda Aceh beauty salon earlier this year and handed over to police, authorities said.

Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia, but there has been a backlash against the community in recent years.

Aceh started using religious law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Our primary mission at Coconuts is to inform and entertain our audience. To do that, we need the support of our readers. If you read Coconuts often, perhaps you might consider joining our COCO+ Membership program? You’ll be supporting local news and joining a community of like-minded individuals across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and beyond. And in addition to unlimited Coconuts content, you’ll get an ad-free experience, exclusive giveaways and discounts, free access to events, and a stylish tote bag. Become a COCO+ Member for less than US$1 per week. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on
RECENTLY ADDED VENUES
ADD YOUR VENUE FOR FREE →
RECENTLY ADDED EVENTS
ADD YOUR EVENT FOR FREE→