MAY 28, 2017 Care2 Causes
Indonesian officials have recently arrested — and publicly caned — two men in Aceh for having a sexual relationship, in addition to arresting over a hundred men in Jakarta after a raid on a sauna. But why are Indonesian officials targeting the LGBT community?
Recently Care2 reported on a vigilante group’s raid on two unarmed men. The individuals, who were held until officials arrived and took them into custody, were subsequently charged for engaging in a sexual relationship and sentenced to a public flogging.
On May 23, the men were caned 83 times in a public space. The original sentence specified 85 strokes of the cane, but — in an apparent attempt at leniency — the punishment was reduced by two strokes because the men had been detained for two months.
The BBC reports that the men, wearing white gowns, were led onto a stage erected outside of a local mosque. They were then flogged by a team of hooded men.
Amnesty International has called the act a “flagrant violation” of human rights standards, with a statement from Josef Benedict, Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, stating:
This sickening spectacle, carried out in front of more than a thousand jeering spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty. These two men had their privacy forcefully invaded when they were ambushed inside their own home, and their ‘punishment’ today was designed to humiliate as well as physically injure them.
The authorities in Aceh and Indonesia must immediately repeal the law which imposes these punishments, which constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture. […] The international community must put pressure on Indonesia to create a safer environment for the LGBTI community before the situation deteriorates further. Nobody should be punished for consensual sex.
Aceh’s spiral into strident Sharia rule has been well-documented, but there are signs that conditions are worsening in many other parts of Indonesia, too.
Just this past week, reports emerged that 141 men were arrested at what police described as a “gay party” inside a sauna building in Jakarta. The exact nature of the gathering hasn’t been established, but the men were detained for violating Indonesia’s anti-pornography laws.
Private consensual homosexual acts are not illegal in Indonesia, but social taboo keeps most LGBT people closeted for their own protection. These recent arrests show the troubling breadth of the country’s anti-pornography laws and serve as a testament to the government’s broad powers to detain and regulate.