Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: wiki (Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, an icon of Banda Aceh city)
Two men have been caned in Indonesia's Aceh region after neighbours reported them for having gay sex.
The punishment took place today [Thursday 28 January 2021] in Tamansari city park in the city of Banda Aceh with dozens of people watching and filming on their mobile devices.
Homosexuality is illegal in the semi-autonomous province under Shariah law, and caning of up to 100 lashes has been used as punishment since 2015.
The men, aged 27 and 29, were whipped by five enforcers wearing robes and hoods, reports ABC News.
According to the outlet, Heru Triwijanarko, Aceh's acting Sharia police chief said the men were arrested in November after neighbours became suspicious and broke into their room while they were having sex.
"Islamic sharia enforcement is final"
Speaking to AFP, Triwijanarko said: "Islamic Sharia enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms."
Video and images of the caning show the men wincing in pain and begging for mercy. According to local media, one of the men was caned so hard that a stick shattered before being immediately replaced, while the mother of one of the victims fainted.
Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia – except for Aceh – although LGBTQ people are still subjected to violence and legal inequalities throughout the country.
Responding to the news, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Attitude: ""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."