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Indonesia court sentences gay men to 85 lashes

Judges in Aceh hand down harsher punishment than prosecutors had asked for

Indonesia court sentences gay men to 85 lashes

An Indonesian official escorts a man after his trial at a Shariah court in Banda Aceh on May 17, 2017. The court sentenced two men to be publicly caned for same sex relations for the first time in Indonesia's conservative province of Aceh, the latest sign of a backlash against gay people in the Muslim-majority country. (Photo by Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP)

May 18, 2017

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A Shariah court in Indonesia's Aceh province has sentenced two young men to be publicly caned for having sex with each other.

The men were found guilty of violating strict Islamic laws in conservative Aceh and will each receive 85 strokes of the cane, the BBC website reported.

Vigilantes found the men, aged 20 and 23, in bed together in March. They have not been identified.

Same sex relations are not illegal in the rest of Muslim-majority Indonesia and this is its first such conviction. Aceh is the only province where Shariah is in force.

The sentence is due to be carried out next week.

While the judges did not give the maximum punishment of 100 strokes, the sentence is heavier than the 80 prosecutors asked for.

One of the men wept and pleaded for leniency on hearing the sentence

Aceh has become increasingly conservative in recent years. Strict laws against homosexuality were passed in 2014 and came into effect the following year.

When the sentence was being read out, the two men covered their faces with their shirt and hands.

"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," Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said.

"These men were subjects of an ambush by their neighbors who stormed into their home, filmed them and handed them over to the Shariah police. Every human being has a right to privacy, a right to enter consensual relations, and a right to physical protection."



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