Indonesia | Crowd cheers as gay men whipped in public

An earlier public flogging

A gay couple are among a group of 15 people who were publicly flogged in Indonesia on Friday for Sharia “crimes”, including homosexuality.

According to CNN, the men – who had been found guilty of having consensual sex – received 87 lashes each as a large crowd watched and jeered outside the Baiturrahim Mosque in the city of Banda Aceh.

Nine people were also punished for adultery with 26 lashes and four individuals received 27 lashes for getting drunk.

The sentences were administered by a hooded man in the capital city of the Aceh province, which is known for implementing strict Islamic Sharia laws.

Agence France-Presse reported that some in the crowd, including Malaysian tourists, took pictures and videos on their cellphones, and shouted out, “flog them harder”.

The gay men were said to have been apprehended at a beauty salon by a mob earlier this year and then handed over to the police, an increasingly common occurrence. There had been reports that the authorities in Aceh would be ending public floggings following an international outcry, but this no longer appears to be the case.

Homosexuality is technically legal in most of Indonesia, except in Aceh, where local penalties for Muslims in the province include public floggings and fines.

Over the last few years, however, Indonesia as a whole has dramatically reversed its general tolerance towards LGBT people, taking on a more radical Islamic approach to sexuality and gender identity.

LGBT people are now routinely discriminated against and abused, often under the country’s anti-pornography laws.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch accused the government of fueling an HIV epidemic by standing by and in some cases supporting a growing crackdown against LGBT people.

This includes allowing arbitrary and unlawful raids by police and militant Islamists on private LGBT gatherings; driving gay men and transgender women in particular further underground.

“The Indonesian government should recognise that its role in abuses against LGBT people is seriously compromising the country’s response to HIV,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

In February, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that the persecution of LGBT Indonesians was “seemingly for cynical political purposes” and warned that this “will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions.”

He urged the country to “move forward – not backwards – on human rights and resist attempts to introduce new forms of discrimination…”

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