A gay couple in Indonesia were publicly whipped 77 times each in a brutal anti-LGBT+ public spectacle condemned by human rights groups.
Dozens of people gathered at Banda Aceh’s Tamansari city park on Thursday (28 January) to watch as the two men were flogged for the “crime” of consensual gay sex, which is outlawed in Aceh province under Sharia law.
The couple, who are aged 27 and 29, grimaced in pain and begged for the whipping to stop as a masked Sharia officer beat their backs with a rattan stick.
The cruel punishment was briefly halted midway and the men were allowed a drink of water before it continued. The mother of one man fainted at the sight of her son being whipped, but officials insisted on the full number of lashes being carried out.
“Islamic sharia enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms,” public order official Heru Triwijanarko told AFP.
The couple were arrested in their rental home in November after residents became suspicious of their relationship. The landlord broke into their room where he found them half-naked, the police chief said.
A Sharia code allows up to 100 lashes for morality offences, including homosexual sex. Caning is also the punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking and for women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.
Four others were whipped between 17 and 40 times on the same day over allegations they drank alcohol or met with members of the opposite sex.
Human rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but it has strong support among Aceh’s population.
The region on the northern tip of Sumatra island is the only part of Indonesia to officially criminalise homosexuality, although anti-LGBT+ prejudice, harassment and discrimination is common throughout the nation.
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