BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – Two men in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh Province were publicly beaten 77 times every Thursday after neighbors reported them to the Islamic Religious Police for sex.
Dozens of people witnessed the beatings in Tamansari City Park in Banda Aceh. It is the third time that Aceh, the only province in Indonesia that practices Sharia law, has beaten people for homosexuality since Islamic law was implemented in 2015 as a concession by the government to end a long-standing separatist uprising.
The men, aged 27 and 29, were lashed on the back and winced in pain as a team of five enforcement officers, wearing robes and hoods, took turns relieving each other after 40 blows.
The men were arrested in November after residents became suspicious and broke into their rented room where they were caught having sex, said Heru Triwijanarko, Aceh’s acting Sharia police chief.
A Shari’a court sentenced each man to 80 strokes, but they were beaten 77 times after being in remission for their time in prison.
Four other people received 17 strokes because of extramarital relationships and 40 strokes because of alcohol use.
A Sharia code allows up to 100 lashes for violations of morality, including gay sex. Caning is also a punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking, and for women who wear tight clothing and men who skip Friday prayers.
With the exception of Aceh, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but the country’s low-profile LGBTQ community has been besieged in recent years.