Two men, aged 27 and 29, were publicly caned in Taman Sari City Park in Banda Aceh, Indonesia by five masked enforcers. According to Daily Mail Online, they were reported by their neighbors way back in November to Islamic religious police who, in turn, broke into the couple’s rented room and caught them having sex. 

The gay men were flogged 77 times each on Thursday in front of onlookers who took photos and videos of the incident as the couple winced in pain and begged for mercy.  Their only respite was when they were allowed a drink of water before the flogging continued, says AFP news agency.

Local media reports say that one of the officer’s rattan stick struck one of the men’s back so hard that it shattered. On the other hand, the mother of one of the men fainted at the sight of her son being whipped.

Aside from the floggings, the couple also served three months in prison hence they received three lashes less than their original sentence. 

Heru Triwijanarko, Aceh’s acting Sharia police chief, said to AFP: “Islamic Sharia enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms.”

Meanwhile, British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Attitude Magazine in an interview: 

These canings under Sharia law are symptomatic of the increased Islamification of Indonesia and rising levels of anti-LGBT+ repression. It is a tragedy the way a previously mostly tolerant Muslim country has become so intolerant, largely as a result of escalating religious fundamentalism.

Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, which is outlawed under the UN Convention Against Torture 1984. The UK government should report Indonesia to the UN Human Rights Council and tourists should boycott Indonesia over LGBT+ and other human rights abuses.

According to BBC News, this is the third time people have been caned in Aceh for homosexuality since Islamic laws were implemented in 2015. Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia except for Aceh as said province was granted by the Indonesian government the legal right to apply Shariah law as part of a peace agreement in 2005 to end a nearly three decade-long separatist war.

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