Indonesia: Aceh publicly shames couple for gay sex
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Indonesia: Aceh publicly shames couple for gay sex

TWO men caught for engaging in gay sex were each caned 82 times before a crowd of spectators outside a mosque in the Indonesian province of Aceh on Tuesday, despite pleas for clemency from human rights advocates.

The two in their twenties were arrested late March after a group of vigilantes broke into their rented room in Banda Aceh.

The couple were tried and found them guilty and sentenced then with 85 lashes, higher than the prosecutors’ charges. Same-sex relationship is a ‘crime’ punishable for up to 100 lashes or a fine of one kilogram of gold or 100 months jail time under Aceh’s Islamic Criminal Code.

SEE ALSO: Can Indonesia’s LGBT rights activists fight rising hostility?

During the trial, the couple, MT (23) and MH (20),  confessed that they have been dating for six months. At around 10pm on March 28, a group of neighbours broke into their room, dragged them out naked and took the couple to the sharia police.

Hartoyo, an LGBT rights activist,  flew to Banda Aceh from Jakarta a day before the scheduled caning to try and offer psychological and health assistance to the couple. His move was more personal. Ten years ago he too was mobbed and tried for being gay.

“I went through the same treatment in 2007. But Sharia law was not in place then, so I didn’t receive the punishment,” he said.

“I brave myself to come to Banda Aceh to offer them help. They have to know that they are not alone and there is nothing wrong in being gay,” Hartoyo added.

Hartoyo said that recent developments of prosecutions had made the gay community very worried.

He plans to attend the caning in the outskirts of Banda Aceh, approach the two men and offer them help. But the case attracted such high attention, it was impossible to get anywhere close to the couple, let alone talk and offer them refuge.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered outside a mosque in Banda Aceh to watch the gay couple, along with eight others received their sentences in public.

SEE ALSO: How Indonesia (inadvertently) promotes LGBT

As soon as the two men arrived at the mosque, the crowd closed in to get a glimpse of the two, making it difficult for them to walk. Police had to guard them to safety in a room behind the execution platform.

Up a platform in the mosque area, the convicted donned long white garb were asked to kneel, before receiving their beating from an executor all covered in dark brown with only their eyes showing.

MT and MH received 82 lashes, three beatings less for serving a week in jail.

Only two days before the Aceh caning, Jakarta police raided a fitness center and arrested 141 men for ‘gay sex party’. The men were stripped naked and recorded on smartphone video that went viral. Before that police raid and arrested 14 men in a similar bust in Surabaya, East Java.

The Aceh arrest and trial was highly condemned by international rights activists. Human Rights Watch condemned the arrest and demanded the Indonesian Government to abolish the law.

The Executive Director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono after the sentence said that the sentence has no legitimacy in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian criminal code clearly rejects hukuman badan (corporal punishment),” he said.

Supriyadi also regret the lack of advocacy and legal support for the majority of suspects charged with this law “when the criminal charges are quite heavy.”