Homosexuals in Aceh face 100 lashes
Gay and lesbian people in the conservative Indonesian province of Aceh could be subjected to 100 public lashes with a rattan cane, under a bylaw proposed by the provincial capital’s deputy governor.
- Published: 9/05/2013 at 01:59 PM
- Newspaper section: news
A man convicted of gambling stands on stage to be whipped by the sharia police executioner in Aceh, Indonesia. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that follows sharia law and uses lashing as punishment for sharia violations. A draft bylaw in the province is now proposing 100 lashes as a punishment for gay people. (EPA Photo)
The Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) is currently discussing proposed changes to the province’s bylaws.
The discussions have prompted Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal to brand homosexuality “a social disease that should be eradicated”, arguing that new bylaws are necessary to punish sexual behaviour deemed unacceptable under Islamic sharia law.
She said that authorities are unable to punish same-sex couples under current regulations, according to the Jakarta Globe, warning that police struggle to crack-down on couples who meet in secret.
“There is no law that could be used to charge them,” Illiza said. “The existing [regulations] only stipulate about khalwat [being in close proximity] for intimate relations between unmarried males and females.”
The deputy mayor said she was prompted to propose the new bylaws after a 2012 survey on at-risk communities and HIV/Aids transmission in Aceh showed some respondents told researchers that they were gay.
“If we ignore it, it will be like an iceberg,” Illiza said. “Even if one case of homosexuality is found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behaviour and activities of the gay community, because their behaviour is deviating from the Islamic sharia.”
A gay rights activist condemned the proposals as “a move backward for civilisation”.
“We’re living in 2013, not in the Middle Ages,” said Hartoyo, secretary-general of Our Voice, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group.
“It’s sad to have a deputy mayor who could think that way… other countries have started to allow homosexual marriage, why coming up with such an idea to punish the LGBT [community]?”
Hartoyo questioned whether sharia police could find sufficient evidence to convict same-sex couples under the proposed bylaw.
“[Even] the definition of adultery under Islam is hard to prove,” Hartoyo said.
“To punish the adulterer there should be four witnesses who saw with their own eyes the penetration. How could we find four witnesses who clearly saw that?”
“Caning as a sentence is a punishment from the old ages. People are born as transgenders and homosexuals. What’s the reason to punish them? Punishing them means she could not appreciate God’s creations.”
Hartoyo said he plans to send the deputy mayor a letter criticising her view.
“I will probably send her a warning letter [saying] that what she did only publicly showed how stupid she is,” he said. “She’s intellectual and has access to the internet and other resources. To come up with that way of thinking is embarrassing.”
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