On Wednesday, an Indonesian court condemned two men to dozens of cane strokes in public for homosexual relations, the last sign of repression of the gay community in the country.
The two men, aged 20 and 23 are convicted of violating strict Islamic law in Aceh province, will each undergo 85 strokes of cane.
They were surprised in bed in March by a group of lawyers in the pension where they lived in Banda Aceh, the capital of this conservative province. They were then handed over to the Shariah police.
“It has been proven, legally, convincingly, that both have been guilty of homosexual relations,” Judge Khairil Jamal told the court. “They are condemned to publicly receive 85 blows of cane”.
The canes are made of rattan and do not generally cause serious injuries. The punishment is chiefly for the public humiliation of the condemned.
Aceh is the only one of the 33 provinces of this Southeast Asian country authorized to apply Sharia.
Playing games, drinking alcohol or committing adultery are also punishable by cane strokes.
The province of Aceh had begun implementing the Sharia law after obtaining autonomous status in 2001 from the central government of Jakarta in order to put an end to several decades of separatist rebellion.
Indonesia has 225 million Muslims out of 250 million. Most Indonesian Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam.
For some time now, hostility to the small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Indonesia has been growing, and several ministers have publicly delivered homophobic remarks.