Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Men Accused of Gay Sex Could Be First Caned in Indonesia

Public caning in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Aceh province was allowed to implement Sharia law in 2014. Public canings like the one in the photo above of a man accused of adultery have been staged ever since. Now two men accused of gay sex could become the first to face a lashing for that offense.

The Associated Press reports that neighbors identified the men, both in their early 20s, as a gay couple. And a disturbing video online allegedly shows the moment when a group bursts in on the two naked men in a room, blocking the door, as one man frantically calls for help on a cell phone. 

The men could face 100 lashes with a cane, because even though Indonesia does not criminalize homosexuality, Sharia law does.  

Indonesia has been lurching toward religiosity. A story last year in The New York Times warned of an impending antigay crackdown that spreads outside of Aceh. There were reports of “Islamic vigilantes” who searched boarding houses for gays and lesbians.

The Williams Institute in March looked at the economic effects on Indonesia of its anti-LGBT culture and placed the potential loss anywhere from $900 million to $12 billion. A more precise estimate isn’t possible because of the lack of data about LGBT people in the country. But discrimination penetrates into health care, employment and in everyday safety. 

Human Rights Watch has been warning of rising danger in Indonesia for years. Most recently, the groups sent a letter to French President Francois Hollande asking him to confront Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during a Southeast Asian tour in March. There's no report that Hollande raised the issue.

“Since taking office, President Jokowi’s rhetorical support for human rights has yet to translate into meaningful policy initiatives to address the country’s serious rights problems,” they warned. The group specifically called out attacks on LGBT people. “Beginning in January 2016, high-ranking Indonesian officials made a series of vitriolic anti-LGBT pronouncements, giving rise to increased threats, intimidation, and violence against LGBT activists and individuals, primarily by Islamist militants. Jokowi has failed to adequately address the discriminatory statements and policies issued by senior government and military officials that have fueled abuses toward the country’s LGBT population.”

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