Human Rights Watch is demanding Indonesia release four people arrested for ‘same-sex conduct’.
Four people were detained in the country’s semi-autonomous province of Aceh under the Islamic Criminal Code. They can face up to 100 lashes in public – an act that constitutes torture in international law.
Director of the LGBT+ rights program at HRW Graeme Reid said:
These vigilante raids and arbitrary detentions underscore the abusive and discriminatory nature of Aceh’s criminal code.
Acehnese authorities should release the four and protect the public from marauding vigilantes who target minorities.
The area’s capital, Banda Aceh, has been the recipient of arbitrary raids. Most recently, a hair salon was raided and a man and a transgender woman were detained and handed over to the Sharia Police. They claimed police found “evidence” of same-sex conduct.
In January, Aceh police raided five salons are arrest 12 people – three men and nine transgender women. The men were released but the women were humiliated, kicked and forced to roll over in the grass. They were detained for two nights.
These arrests seem to be part of a growing homophobia in the region. In May 2017, a Sharia court sentenced two men to be publicly caned for gay sex for the first time in the conservative provinces’ history.
In 2012, the then deputy mayor, Illiza Aduddin told the media:
If we ignore it, it will be like an iceberg… Even if one case of homosexuality [is] found, it’s already a problem… [W]e are really concerned about the behaviour and activities of the gay community, because their behaviour is deviating from the Islamic Shariah.
Of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, Aceh is the only one that can legally adopt bylaws based on Islamic Sharia. Consensual sex between two people of the same sex, for example, is considered an offence only in that province and nowhere else in the country.