Two men accused of having sex in contravention of sharia law, on Tuesday, May 23, received 85 strokes of lashes administered by religious police in Indonesia as hundreds of people watched the punishment ordered by an Islamic court.
The pair, both in their early 20s, were caught together in bed by a group of vigilantes who raided a boarding house in the provincial capital Banda Aceh in late March. Police later arrested the couple and said they admitted to being in a relationship and having had sex three times.
Prosecutor Gulmaini Wardani told journalists after the hearing at a special sharia court last Wednesday that the men were guilty of the crime of having homosexual sex and therefore should each receive 85 strokes of cane.
The punishment, condemned by rights groups, marked the first application of anti-homosexuality laws introduced in the province in 2014. Aceh has long had a reputation as Indonesia’s most conservative region. It is the only province that criminalises same-sex relations and that uses Islamic law as its legal code in addition to the national criminal code.Up to 1,000 people, many filming with smartphones, watched as the two men received 82 lashes each. Many others watched the punishment being meted out on a livestream video.
Some in the crowd carried banners rejecting the presence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Aceh.
“I hope there won’t be any more such cases of homosexuality, it is shocking,” said Eni Tri
Retnaningsih, a 20-year-old student who said she had watched others caned before for other offences such as adultery.
At least eight other men and women were caned for other offences ahead of the punishment of the two found guilty of having gay sex.
Police separated men and women in the crowd as proceedings began, with 10 men in brown robes and hoods preparing a bundle of canes in case any broke during the flogging.
The beatings were delivered on the clothed backs of the men and women, some of whom cried out in pain with each stroke. In some cases, the caning was suspended briefly if the offender signaled they were in too much pain.