Indonesia Is in the Middle of a Terrifying Anti-Gay Clampdown

In Indonesia, two gay men arrested for their sexual orientation face the threat of corporal punishment. Now, the Care2 community is urging Indonesia’s president to step in and stop this unjust and inhumane sentence.

Prosecutors in Indonesia’s Aceh province recommend that the two men, aged 20 and 23, should be given 80 lashes each after they supposedly confessed to being in a same-gender relationship. Prosecutors say they have corroborated the claim with video footage and other items that were confiscated during a raid on the pair’s rented room.

The Guardian offers more details on the background of this horrific human rights abuse:

They were arrested in late March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, suspected them of being gay and set out to catch them having sex. Mobile phone footage that circulated online and forms part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

International human rights groups are becoming increasingly concerned with the move to hardline Sharia, or Islamic law, in Aceh, the only region in Indonesia that defines itself as an Islamic territory.

Human Rights Watch’s Phelim Kine stated:

These men had their privacy invaded in a frightening and humiliating manner and now face public torture for the ‘crime’ of their alleged sexual orientation. The arrest and detention of these two men underscores the abuse imbedded in Aceh’s discriminatory, anti-LGBT ordinances.

Indonesia as a state has made strides toward democracy after casting off theocratic rule over a decade ago. However, in an attempt to appease hard-line Sharia supporters, the Indonesian government has given officials great leeway in how they enforce religious code.

This has led to a number of human rights abuses, including allowing the public and Sharia police to detain anyone they suspect of committing so-called morality offenses, like being LGBT. As a result, arrests and extrajudicial detentions have risen.

Local officials have also stoked homophobia in the region, calling for the public to actively seek out and repress LGBT people. They’ve also called for the supposed “reeducation” of offenders.

In a report from April of this year, Human Rights Watch notes that, over the past twelve months, such raids have increased dramatically — including “police raids on suspected gatherings of gay men, attacks on LGBT activists, and vitriolic anti-LGBT rhetoric from officials and politicians.”

Human Rights Watch notes that Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo spoke out last October against the dangerous situation facing LGBT people in the country and called on officials to protect the rights of LGBT citizens. However, neither the president nor any other government or local law enforcement officials have acted with specific plants to meet these challenges.

There is also cause to think that the situation facing all minorities in Aceh, not just LGBTs, could be about to get worse.

In April the country’s Constitutional Court declared that the Home Ministry does not have the power to unilaterally take action to prevent local regions from enacting discriminatory laws that threaten established human rights standards.

This means that it will now be that much harder to prevent Aceh officials from enforcing their hard-line Sharia stance. It also represents a significant failure on behalf of President Joko Widodo who, critics say, had both the power and opportunity to stop this crisis from emerging.

This also comes amidst a district court sentencing Jakarta’s Governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama to two years in prison for supposed blasphemy against Islam. As human rights groups have noted, this is as much a blow for moderate Muslims as it is for their non-Muslim counterparts. The decision sends a chilling message: either fall in with conservative religious officials or face the consequences.

It is critical that Indonesia’s government act now to turn this situation around, as a failure to do so will likely lead to further abuses. President Joko Widodo can start by preventing the lashing of two men whose supposed crime of homosexuality is no real crime at all.

Take Action!

Join Care2 member Amelia Meister, and sign the petition calling on President Joko Widodo to free these two men and ensure that no one else is persecuted for their LGBT identity.

Photo Credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Flickr


Jessica C
Jessica C1 months ago

Petition signed.
This is very saddening :(

Philippa P
Philippa Powers2 months ago

So sad!

Margie F
Margie F2 months ago

Gays are born that way in many cases. Ignoring or punishing them will never help.

Carl R
Carl R3 months ago


pam w
pam w3 months ago

Does ANYONE doubt that gays would face this same hatred in places like Alabama, Texas, etc....without protections of the law? Nothing like a THEOCRASY.....

Sonia M
Sonia M3 months ago

Petition signed,thanks for sharing

natasha s
Past Member 3 months ago

Terrible place 4 both animals+people alike. Disgusting what's happening there now to gay men. It's 2017 4 gods sake. signed/shared

Scott haakon
Scott haakon3 months ago

Aceh? That is the power center of the hardliners! Time to understand the area. A beating is mile to a death penalty. The Indonesian government is not that strong to ignore the millions of Muslims. No one is going to push for anything. Indonesia has the population to counter China. There will be very careful approaches as Indonesia needs Western military Equipment. People in the West need to understand the rest of the world is not PC.

Angela K
Angela K4 months ago

petition signed & shared

heather g
heather g4 months ago

More Governments should be taking action against Indonesia's Govt.