Timeline: Persecution of Homosexuals in Indonesia

Posted On: May 25, 2017

 This article appeared originally in The Huffington Post.

This news made international headlines on Tuesday, 23 May 2017, and these developments in Indonesia are shocking to say the least.

“Two Indonesian men were caned on Tuesday (May 23) in front of a jeering crowd as a punishment for gay sex, in a first for the Muslim-majority country where there is mounting hostility towards the small LGBT community.

The pair received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking syariah rules in conservative Aceh province, the only part of Indonesia that implements Islamic law.

The men, aged 20 and 23, were led onto a raised stage outside a mosque in front of a crowd of thousands, who jeered and booed loudly.” – The Straits Times, 23 May 2017

If you’ve been following the international news like I have, you’d see that the anti-homosexuality movement from the highest level in Indonesia has been brewing for some time.

I decided to draw up this timeline of the persecution of homosexuals that started gaining momentum since 2014 in Indonesia.

Timeline: Persecution of Homosexuals in Indonesia

International Responses

Responding to the sentencing of two gay men to 85 lashes each for consensual same-sex sexual relations, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said here:

“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 consensual relations, and a right to physical protection.”

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) was formed when LGBTIQ activists from eight ASEAN countries (Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) came together to attend a meeting organized by Arus Pelangi, Indonesia for Human and Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) Vietnam, during the 2011 ASEAN Civil Society Conference of the ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Jakarta, Indonesia. They released a statement here yesterday:

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus strongly condemns Aceh government’s public caning of two men for committing consensual same-sex acts. Such public caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which is contrary to Indonesia’s human rights obligations.

The punishment came after the Shariah Court’s decision last May 17, 2017 which convicted the two men for violating the Shariah Law. We are deeply concerned that the Shariah Court’s decision was done with highly questionable due process. The evidence used were produced under extreme duress and by compromising the right to privacy of the accused. The two accused men were attacked by vigilante groups inside their bedroom, without consent, and were threatened to make video-recorded confessions.

Reliable sources in Aceh indicate that accused were not allowed to have access to legal aid as well as access to their family members after arrest. Reports indicate that human rights lawyers who attempted to reach out to the accused were prevented by the Aceh police.

Aceh is province in Indonesia that enforces strict Shariah Law which criminalizes consensual same-sex act. Under the Qanun Jinayah 2014 article 63, Liwath (same-sex relationship between two consenting adult men) is punishable with caning 100 times or penalty of 1000 gram of gold or imprisonment for 100 months. In this recent case, the victims were punished by caning 85 times in front of the public, conducted today (May 23, 2017). Not only is the law problematic, but it also reinforces social stigma towards LGBTIQ persons. The enforcement of the law leaves people open to direct attacks and harassment of persons because of their sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

We express deep concern that the Shariah Court’s decision emboldens the communities as well as vigilante groups to infiltrate private spaces and harass individuals who may be alleged to engage in consensual same-sex act. As a result of the court’s decision, local LGBTIQ activists in Aceh express fear that vigilante groups will not hesitate to enter their houses and rooms without their consent to threaten them.

We urge the Indonesian government to:

  1. Put utmost effort to not allow these injustice treatments happened in the future.
  2. Provide redress, including psycho-social support, considering the trauma and social stigma associated with the public punishment;
  3. Ensure protection of persons fearing threats and attacks by vigilante groups because of their actual or perceived SOGIE;
  4. Ensure the protection and privacy of the victims and witnesses during detention by impose fair trial in accordance with the Constitution as well as other International treaties ratified by Indonesia.
  5. Repeal provisions of the Shariah Law that criminalizes consensual same-sex act.

May Be Of Interest

My Stand

As a certified sexologist who is also the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). I take the same position of AASECT that having a non-heterosexual sexual orientation, that being transgender and that being gender non-conforming, are not mental disorders.

I am opposed to any “reparative” or conversion therapy that seeks to “change” or “fix” a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. AASECT does not believe that non-heterosexual sexual orientation or being transgender or gender non-conforming is something that needs to be “fixed” or “changed.” And neither do I.

This form of persecution is a violation against human rights, and I want to draw attention to how this is unacceptable!

References Cited

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.

She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and has most recently completed her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling. In practice for more than seven years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.

Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network.  She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-BetweenOrgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.


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