Amnesty International calls on Indonesia to revoke caning sentence for gay couple

Amnesty International are calling on authorities in Indonesia to revoke the conviction of a gay couple. The couple will be punished with 85 strokes of a cane in a public ceremony, after they were convicted of homosexuality. The two men, aged 20 and 23, will receive the punishment in public on May 23 - just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The couple were the first to be convicted for homosexuality under the strict sharia code of Aceh, a semi-autonomous region of Indonesia. The prosecution originally called for a lesser punishment of 80 lashes, but this was increased in the judgement. In response to the sentencing, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said: “The Aceh authorities must immediately revoke the conviction and the caning sentences and end the use of this punishment, which constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and may amount to torture. “These men were subjects of an ambush by their neighbours who stormed into their home, filmed them and handed them over to the Shari’a police. Every human being has a right to privacy, a right to enter into consensual relations, and a right to physical protection.” The two men were initially arrested last month after neighbours apparently noticed that the students had been "acting lovey dovey" for the past few months and decided to alert the authorities. Their home was broken into by a group of men who beat the couple, who pleaded with their attackers to not tell the authorities. Evidence submitted to the court during the trial seeking to 'prove' the couple's homosexuality included their clothes and three condoms. The pair were convicted in a three-judge trial. In a sentencing document, the judges assert that the men are being punished for tainting the region's reputation with their homosexuality. "The deeds of the defendants creates a bad image of the Aceh people and community," the document reads.