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Asia Minute: Islamic Law Holding Gay Men in Indonesia

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia has become the focus of a case involving local laws and gay rights. It’s gaining broader attention around the region and this week the publicity has spread around the world. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Two men in Indonesia’s Aceh Province could face 100 lashes with a cane for having sex with each other.

Under international law, that punishment meets the definition of torture.

Aceh is the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that enforces Sharia—the Islamic legal system that carries harsh penalties for various offenses.

A couple of years ago, homosexuality was listed among the “moral transgressions” that can now result in caning—including adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, and for women, wearing tight clothing.

The province also allows citizen arrests for those offenses.

Local media say a group of men burst into a rented room in Banda Aceh two weeks ago, and caught two other men having sex, then turned them over to police.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the two. Saying the case “underscores the abuse imbedded in Aceh’s discriminatory, anti-LGBT ordinances.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has maintained the rights of LGBT people should be respected—saying “there should be no discrimination against anyone.”

Human Rights Watch says Widodo has not backed up that statement with any action.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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