• One of two Indonesian men is publicly caned for having sex, in Banda Aceh on May 23, 2017. (AFP)Source: AFP
Aceh province has been punishing same-sex relations with public canings.
Michaela Morgan

14 Jul 2017 - 2:09 PM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2017 - 2:09 PM

There was international outcry in May when Indonesian authorities publicly flogged two young men who were found guilty of having gay sex in conservative Aceh province.

Now leaders in the area have decided to conduct the punishments privately—away from large crowds—in order to avoid the media spotlight.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that Aceh authorities are still carrying out floggings on the LGBT+ community but don’t want the province to seem unappealing to investors.

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The organisation has called on Aceh’s new governor Irwandi Yusuf —who previously opposed the more extreme laws in the province—to cease the human rights violations.

“But now Irwandi, recently elected governor for a second time, seems to be trying to gloss over a barbaric violation of basic rights,” a statement from HRW reads.

Indonesia canes men convicted of gay sex before a jeering crowd
Two Indonesian men were caned Tuesday 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 government should be abolishing this brutal punishment and the abusive laws that allow it, not whitewashing flogging to mollify squeamish investors.”

According to a recent study, anti-LGBT discrimination is costing Indonesia as much as $12 billion USD per year.

Same-sex relations are legal everywhere else in Indonesia, but Aceh was given the unique right to implement Sharia law in 2001. The region’s 2014 criminal code prohibits “all same-sex relations and mandates public caning as punishment”.