Indonesia

Indonesian province considers caning for gay sex

This 2011 file photo shows a Sharia law official whipping a man during a public caning in Jantho, Aceh province, Indonesia. Heri Juanda, AP (File)

This 2011 file photo shows a Sharia law official whipping a man during a public caning in Jantho, Aceh province, Indonesia.Heri Juanda, AP (File)

This 2011 file photo shows a Sharia law official whipping a man during a public caning in Jantho, Aceh province, Indonesia.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Men and women caught having homosexual sex could be publicly caned in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province if an Islam-inspired draft law is approved this week.

Lawmaker Moharriadi Syafari said a majority of provincial lawmakers supported criminalizing gay sex. They are debating the law with a view to pass it and several others regulating personal behavior before Friday, the last day of the current assembly.

If the law is passed by the 69-member assembly, the Aceh governor will have to sign it before it can be implemented.

The region already canes people found guilty of adultery, gambling and consuming alcohol. Among other stipulations, females wearing tight clothes can be fined, as can people who skip Friday prayers.

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Aceh is considered more devout than elsewhere in Muslim-majority Indonesia, but the level of support for the implementation of the laws is unclear.

The articles on gay sex are included in a revised package of Islamic laws being considered by the government. An earlier section that called for people to be stoned to death for adultery has been dropped from the latest version. Syafari said this was because of complaints from the central government.

The draft says anal sex between men would be punished by up to 100 lashes of the cane, and that females found guilty of “rubbing” their vaginas or other body parts together for sexual pleasure would also be liable for caning.

It doesn’t mention other sex acts, raising questions over whether the region’s clerics considered the acts acceptable or even how much thought had gone into the drafting of the laws.

Indonesia’s criminal code doesn’t regulate homosexuality. There is considerable tolerance in some sections of society toward gays, but few live openly. The country has become more religiously conservative over the last 20 years, and hardliners frequently seek to disrupt activities by gay rights groups.

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