A SHARIA court in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public caning for the first time, on the same day as International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
The couple were arrested two months ago after people in their neighbourhood suspected them of being gay and broke into their room to catch them having sex.
Video captured on a mobile phone formed part of the evidence, which showed one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he tried to call for help on his own phone.
The chief prosecutor Gulmaini said the pair will be caned next week before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan starts.
The lead judge decided against imposing the maximum sentence of 100 lashes because the men were polite in court, co-operated with authorities, and had no prior convictions.
Aceh is the only province in the Muslim-majority Indonesia allowed to practice Shariah law, and the judge said as Muslims, the two men needed to uphold the Sharia law in the province.
International human rights group Amnesty International has described the treatment of the men as abusive and humiliating and called for their immediate release.
“Every human being has a right to privacy, a right to enter consensual relations, and a right to physical protection,” Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said in a statement.
In April Human Rights Watch said public caning would constitute torture under international law.