A gay couple in Banda Aceh, the most queer-hostile region in Indonesia, faces 100 lashes simply for being in love. A mob of locals stormed the home of the two young men and dragged them both to a police station. Now the couple is threatened with torture – activists demand: Stop the madness!

New human rights violations in Indonesia: According to the portal AsiaNews, the couple will be charged with “illegal sexual orientation” within 20 days of their arrest in a Sharia court in the provincial capital. They are threatened with a public flogging.

The Islamic penal code “Qanun Jinayat”, which is valid in the province, also provides for a maximum prison sentence of eight years and a fine of one kilogram of gold for gay acts. Banda Aceh is the only province in Indonesia where Sharia law applies. Unfortunately, it is no longer the only area in the country where homosexuals are persecuted and oppressed.



Human Rights Watch demands an end to the situation


Joko Widodo


For years, Human Rights Watch officials have been calling on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to finally intervene in Banda Aceh because of the human rights violations there. In recent years, however, the development in the rest of Indonesia with regard to the rights of the queer community has been deteriorating. Discrimination and repression are commonplace, and a law is currently pending that could make gay sex a criminal offence throughout the country – LGBTIQ activists* are increasingly concerned.

Human Rights Watch is now looking elsewhere in search of allies who can control the situation. In an open letter last month, the organisation’s deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to put pressure on governments over human rights violations in Vietnam and Indonesia.

Yoshihide Suga

Robertson said Suga should criticise Indonesia’s crackdown on religious freedom, freedom of the press, the right to sexual orientation and gender identity, and the rights of indigenous peoples. Japan should use its significant influence as a major financier to the Vietnamese and Indonesian governments.

“Prime Minister Suga should publicly and privately show that Japan is serious about its policy declarations to promote human rights abroad.”

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