Indonesian court sentences gay couple to caning

Indonesian activist

Two men are to be caned 85 times each in public after being convicted for having gay sex in Indonesia.

The pair, aged 20 and 23, were sentenced to 85 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking Aceh's strict Islamic laws. One of the men cried as his fate was revealed.

They were arrested after vigilantes broke into their rented room and attacked them in an incident videoed and posted on the internet. He is seen trying to make calls seeking help, while his partner is seen being pushed repeatedly by a man in an attempt to prevent the couple from leaving the room.

"It has been proven, legally, convincingly, that both have been guilty of homosexual relations", Judge Khairil Jamal told the court.

Homosexuality is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia but a case before the country's top court is seeking to criminalize gay sex and sex outside marriage.

In April 2017, There were reports that Chechnya the Muslim Majority region of Russian Federation is going to crack down gay couples and gonna serve them justice before the start of Ramadan, However The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied any such allegations made.

Global human rights groups have described the treatment of the men as abusive and humiliating and called for their immediate release.

Aceh is the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces where sharia-inspired punishments are on the statute book.

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Asked by the judge whether he accepted the court's decision, one of the men said: "Please reduce my sentence".

Human rights activists called the punishment excessive and a risky turn of events in the province.

Authorities in the province on the northern tip of Sumatra island caned 339 people in 2016 for a range of crimes, according to HRW.

Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country which implements Sharia law.

Activists say the court decision will make it much more hard for the national government to repeal discriminatory laws like ones in Aceh. "It shows the increasingly conservative judiciary in Indonesia".

Offences that carry the caning punishment include gambling, drinking alcohol, and not adhering to public dress requirements.

Earlier this month, the outgoing Jakarta governor, a minority Christian, was sentenced to two years in prison for campaign comments deemed as blaspheming the Koran.

Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia representative for Human Rights Watch, said the case on Wednesday was unusual, because transgender Acehnese are usually the focus of the province's efforts regarding gender norms, instead of gays and lesbians.

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