Two gay men publicly lashed 77 times for having sex in Indonesia's Aceh

Two gay men publicly lashed 77 times for having sex in Indonesia's Aceh
Two men who were allegedly caught by neighbour having sex, were publicly whipped 77 times each in Aceh province.
2 min read
29 January, 2021
The Aceh region of Indonesia is highly conservative. [Getty]
Two men accused of having gay sex, have been publicly flogged 77 times in the conservative Indonesian province of Aceh.

Crowds gathered in a public park on Thursday to watch the two men, aged 27 and 29, be lashed with a rattan stick by hooded and robed enforcers in the provinces' capital of Banda.

A team of five enforcers took turns to lash the men, switching every 40 lashes. Photos from the incident show the two men wincing in pain as the cane hit their backs.

According to reports in Indonesian media, the mother of one of the men fainted as the punishment was meted out.

At one point, the punishment was briefly paused to allow the men to drink water.

The two men, who have not been identified, were reportedly arrested on 14 November, after neighbours grew suspicious.

According to local media reports from the time, a crowd broke into the apartment of one of the men and caught the two engaged in sexual relations. They were then dragged to the station of Public Order Agency in the provincial capital.

A Shariah court sentenced the two men to 80 lashes each, but the sentence was reduced to account for time spent in prison.

Along with the two men accused of same sex relations, a women and a man received 20 lashes each for being in close proximity to each other, and two men accused of being drunk were given 40 lashes each.

Whipping as a form of punishment is recognised as torture under international law. 

While homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, it remains a highly taboo subject, and is prohibited in the Aceh province.

The Aceh region is highly conservative and imposes strict Islamic law, prohibiting the drinking of alcohol, gambling, and same sex relations. 

Read more: Does Saudi Arabia feel threatened by the new Muslim alliance?

"Over the past decade, Aceh's parliament has adopted Sharia-inspired ordinances that criminalise everything from non-hijab-wearing women, to drinking alcohol, to gambling, to extramarital sex," said Kyle Knight, a senior LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch.

In 2012, the province’ deputy mayor at the time, Illiza Saaduddin, announced a "special team" that would make the public more aware of what she described as the "threat of LGBT".

"The Indonesian government has made commitments in principle to protect LGBT people. But it seems President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo’s slogan of 'unity in diversity' does not genuinely extend to protecting everyone – including the two men mercilessly flogged today," said Knight.

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