Gay Men at Risk of Torture in Indonesia

The government of Indonesia has been attempting, repeatedly, to threaten the rights and safety of LGBT citizens of the country. There have been a number of comments with regards to it and a call on the Indonesian authorities to release 2 gay men from the Aceh province. The local ordinance at the moment criminalises homosexuality.

On the night of March 28, 2017, unidentified vigilantes forcibly entered a home and brought two men found there to the police for having alleged same-sex relations. The two men, in their twenties, have been detained at a Wilayatul Hisbah, a Sharia (Islamic law) police facility in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.

The chief inspector stated the 2 gay men confessed to being gay and would be detained for being male homosexuals. In the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code (Qanun Jinayah), the men may face 100 public lashings.

Under international law, this section of the Islamic Criminal Code constitutes torture. There is disagreement between international law and the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code and was noted by the deputy Asia division director of HRW, Phelim Kine, that these two cases exemplify the embedded anti-LGBT discrimination in the Qanun Jinayah.

“These men had their privacy invaded in a frightening and humiliating manner and now face public torture for the ‘crime’ of their alleged sexual orientation,” Kine said.

There was cell phone footage of the raid. The ordinances in the Qanun Jinayah against gays is said to empower the public and the special Sharia police force in the public identification and detainment of someone in violation of the rules.

The Aceh authorities detained LGBT individuals in the past, including an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old pair of young women who were assumed to be lesbians. The charge was “embracing in public” with detainment for 3 nights.

Over the past 10 years, the Aceh parliament has begun to adopt various Sharia-inspired ordinances, which have criminalised non-hijab-wearing women, and other activities such as the consumption of alcohol, gambling, and extramarital relations. These can be enforced onto non-Muslims.

In 2016, 339 people received lashings – a Sharia-based punishment. Out of the 34 provinces in Indonesia, Aceh is the main one that can adopt, by law, the Sharia-based bylaws. The Human Rights Watch openly opposes all discriminatory laws and policies; especially those that violate the most basic human rights.

HRW said, in June, that the  Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo backtracked on an announced commitment for the abolishment of abusive Sharia regulations in the nation. The government officials in Aceh province have worked to actively stoke the homophobia.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.

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