The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh has resumed public punishments for gay sex, with two men lashed 87 times on Friday.

The two men were caned in public alongside another 13 people who had violated Sharia Law by committing adultery or drinking and selling alcohol, CNN reported.

The two men had been sentenced to 90 lashes each but had the number cut after spending four months in custody, according to The State.

A crowd of hundreds gathered to watch the canings be carried out, cheering particularly at the gay men and taking video of the punishments on mobile phones.

Aceh’s governor had decreed earlier this year that corporal punishments would only take place inside prisons or detention centres.

The head of Aceh’s religious police said that last week’s canings took place in public due to a lack of guidelines or instructions around the new approach to carrying out the punishments.

Aceh’s increasingly routine corporal punishments of men who have sex with men are part of an increasing hostility towards LGBTI people in Indonesia.

Earlier this year, the Indonesian government was reported to be rounding up trans people and forcing them into ‘rehabilitation’ centres as a deterrent to their identity.

The country has mulled banning gay sex and non-marital sex, while men have been arrested in saunas and the homosexuality is now classified as a mental disorder there.

A report by Human Rights Watch last year indicated that more than 500 people have been caned in Indonesia for “victimless crimes” including gay sex.

HRW has also stated that the increasing marginalisation of queer people in Indonesia is leading to a potential HIV epidemic as rates of the virus among gay men there have skyrocketed from 5 to 25 per cent since 2007.

Outreach workers have noted a lack of knowledge about safe sex among gay men due, in part, to stigmatisation.

“This is going to be very damaging for Indonesia,” said HRW’s Andreas Harsono.

“It might bring Indonesia 20-30 years back to the 1980s when the HIV/AIDS virus was still new.”

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