Gay Sex Will Now Be Punishable With 100 Lashes In Indonesia’s Province Of Aceh

In Islamic society, not much consideration is given for those who are gay, and gay rights are a distant dream. While being gay is not actually illegal, the staunchly religious Indonesian province of Aceh will start dispensing punishment in the form of public canings — 100 lashes by thin rattan sticks — for any discovered sexual activities between persons of the same sex. The new law in the conservative province will see to it that 100 lashes are given to any gay persons.

Being found guilty of homosexuality also means that in addition to the possibility of being publicly given 100 lashes by the cane, the guilty party could also face imprisonment for up to 100 months or pay a maximum fine of 1,000 grams of fine gold. Human rights activists have been calling for the abolishment of the law to no avail. Islami Hasani is an activist with the prominent Indonesian rights group Setera Institute for Democracy and Peace and has criticized the law as being “cruel, inhumane and against the constitution.”

“The government should not meddle in private affairs and instead guarantee individual rights such as freedom.”

Indonesia as a country does not adhere to a strict punishment system for gays, as being LGBT is not illegal, according to national law. The country mainly follows the criminal code from their previous colonial ruler under the Netherlands. However, Aceh has a degree of autonomy from the state. In 2001, in an effort to eliminate the decades-long separatist movement in the country, Jakarta and Aceh came to an understanding regarding their right to govern themselves, and a peace deal with the central government was struck in 2005 as well. Since that time, they have slowly implemented Islamic Sharia laws. Indonesia is a hugely populous and Muslim-majority nation, and yet the Aceh province is the only one allowed to implement Sharia law, which means that they can these public caning sessions for anyone caught breaking their laws.

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) was told by the Provincial Sharia chief Syahrizal Abbas that under the Islamic by any Muslim, locals and foreigners alike caught in the act of gay sex is subject to the 100 lashes from the cane. The bylaw regulation was officially passed in 2014 but did not become effective until October 23, 2015, because they wanted to take a year to educate the public on exactly what the law entails. In the western province of Aceh, anal sex between men and “the rubbing of body parts between women for stimulation” is now illegal.

“The law is to safeguard human dignity. It is to protect Aceh’s Muslims from committing immoral acts.”

Times reported that two teenage girls in a lesbian relationship were lucky the law was not yet effective, when they were caught hugging earlier this month. At the time, they were held for questioning for four days by the Sharia law enforcement before being turned over to the regular police’s Women and Child Protection Unit. The two women will also be forced to undergo “rehabilitation” by psychologists. Graeme Reid, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, accused the province of violating the human rights of the young women, but naturally they did not see it as such.

Under Sharia law, there are also other acts of “immoral” behavior that are punishable by public lashes from the cane. Yahoo New Zealand wrote that the act of caning individuals in public is more about public humiliation rather than causing actual pain. The Aceh province already doles out public canings to its Muslims for drinking alcohol, gambling, and for fraternizing with the opposite sex outside of marriage. The new law will also make adultery punishable by 100 lashes and punishes those who accuse others of adultery without proof with 80 lashes.

It is still a constant struggle for members of the LGBT community to gain rights and acceptance in many countries. The new law punishing gay sex by 100 lashes from public caning sessions in Indonesia’s Aceh is a step back for the community as a whole.

[Photo by Chaideer Mahyuddin / Getty Images]