The new law in Aceh will affect locals and foreigners
Earlier this month, two women in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province were arrested under suspicion of being lesbians. Due to a new law not being in effect, the two women were sentenced to a “rehabilitation” process.
Aceh has now started public canings—100 lashes—to punish anyone suspected or found to be engaging in sexual activities with a person of the same gender. In addition to the lashes, the person or persons found guilty can also face up to 100 months imprisonment or be ordered to pay a maximum fine of 1,000 grams of fine gold.
Indonesian national law does not criminalize homosexuality and many human rights groups are protesting the new law. Setera Institute for Democracy and Peace, a prominent Indonesian rights group, has called the law “cruel, inhumane and against the constitution.”
In 2005, Aceh was granted the right to govern themselves in order to implement a peace deal with the central government. It is the only province in the Muslim-majority nation to implement Sharia laws, which allows them to enforce public canings.
The Provincial Sharia chief Syahrizal Abbas stated that the law is to “safeguard human dignity. It is to protect Aceh’s Muslims from committing immoral acts.” and also stated that “anal sex between men and the rubbing of body parts between women for stimulation” is illegal in Aceh under a bylaw passed in 2014.