Two Indonesian gay men were caned in public last week despite the government’s pledge that such barbaric punishment would not be continued. The men were whipped 80 times each with a rattan cane as onlookers hurled abuse and insults.
15 people were caned outside of a mosque in the country’s conservative Aceh province for offenses like drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public. It is the only region in Indonesia that imposes Islamic sharia law.
The unidentified couple were pulled out of a beauty salon earlier this year by a vigilante mob who accused them of having sex. The country has been cracking down on gay men and flogging or humiliating them with the government’s permission.
Police in Jakarta arrested over 140 men at a sauna popular with gay men in May 2017 and another 51 men in a raid of a different sauna in October. Police said the men were detained on suspicion of violating Indonesia’s pornography law.
In May 2017, two gay men were publicly caned after vigilantes in their neighborhood barged into the apartment where they were staying and filmed them naked in bed. The video not only led to their conviction and sentencing to 85 lashes, it was reportedly shared broadly on social media.
After international outcry, Aceh officials said this year they would stop public whippings but continue the punishment behind prison walls.
In February of this year, police raided a hair salon that was frequented by trans woman, shaved their heads, and forced them to run “until their male voices came out.”
On March 12, vigilantes raided a hair salon in Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, where a man and a transgender woman were arrested. The vigilantes said they found condoms in the salon and that the trans woman was carrying money, evidence that the salon was being used for prostitution. They called police and the two were arrested.
On March 29, vigilantes broke into a student’s apartment and called the police. Police arrested the student and another boy he was accused of having sex with, and seized their cell phones, condoms, and a mattress as evidence that they had had sex.