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Four Indonesians Arrested for Gay Sex; Could Face Public Lashings

Indonesia

The arrests were made as a result of vigilante raids in the nation's ultraconservative Aceh province.

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Four people in Indonesia have been arrested on suspicion of having had gay sex, for which they could be punished with 100 lashes.

The arrests were made in the Aceh province, the only part of the nation that follows sharia law, which strictly regulates sexual conduct under a conservative interpretation of Islam. The rest of Indonesia is largely Muslim but with a secular government.

The four were turned in as a result of two vigilante raids last month in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, Human Rights Watch reports. In the first raid, March 12, vigilantes detained a man and a transgender woman who worked in a hair salon and turned them over to sharia police, who "claim to have found 'evidence' of same-sex conduct, including condoms and 'transaction money' from the transgender woman," according to the rights group.

Then last Thursday, vigilantes entered a private home and called the sharia police in to arrest two male college students for allegedly having sex. The police seized cell phones, condoms, and a mattress as evidence.

All four arrestees are being held by police as they await trial in a religious court. "Under Aceh's Islamic Criminal Code, they face up to 100 lashes in public - a punishment that constitutes torture under international human rights law," Human Rights Watch notes.

"These vigilante raids and arbitrary detentions underscore the abusive and discriminatory nature of Aceh's criminal code," said Graeme Reid, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT rights program, in a post on the group's website. "Acehnese authorities should release the four and protect the public from marauding vigilantes who target vulnerable minorities."

Reid added, "The authorities have already flouted the privacy rights of these individuals. They shouldn't make things worse by subjecting them to torture."

There have been several mass arrests of LGBT people in Indonesia in the past few years. In January, police in Aceh took 12 transgender women into custody, then shaved their heads and forced them to put on men's clothing. In Jakarta, the nation's capital, dozens of gay men were arrested at a sauna last year, and in December, 10 were sentenced to two years in prison. Jakarta is not under sharia law, and gay sex is not illegal there, but the men were charged with violating an antipornography law, often used to target LGBT people.

Indonesia's Parliament is now considering a law that would make all sex outside heterosexual marriage illegal throughout the nation.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.