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Two Indonesian men sentenced to 85 lashes for having sex together

Two Indonesian men sentenced to 85 lashes for having sex together

The sentence was higher than the recommendation by prosecutors of 80 strokes of the cane. Aceh is the only province where Sharia is in force.

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.

Homosexuality isn't illegal in Indonesia, but there is now a judicial review being considered by the Constitutional Court that would criminalise sex between the people of the same gender.

They were surprised in bed in March by a group of lawyers in the pension where they lived in Banda Aceh, the capital of this conservative province.

Mobile phone footage that circulated online and formed part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his phone.

Presiding judge Khairil Jamal told the court that the men had been "proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing gay sex, the defendants are sentenced to 85 strokes of the cane in public".

The group had called on Indonesia's authorities to release men who face "public torture for the "crime" of their alleged sexual orientation".

Under global human rights law all forms of corporal punishment are prohibited - they constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and often torture. "The verdict is harsher [and] it shows the increasingly conservative judiciary in Indonesia".

The sentencing of the couple coincidentally came on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Aceh was given special authorization to implement punishment under Sharia code in concession made by the central government to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatists to end to a decades-long civil war.

Indonesia's moderate reputation has been damaged in the past year due a surge in persecution of members in the LGBT community and attacks on religious minorities. He was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy.

Public caning sentences have been handed down previously for gambling and drinking alcohol. Approximately 93 percent of Indonesians oppose homosexuality; the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classifies LGBTQ identity as a mental disorder; the country's ministers consider LGBTQ people a security risk and have started passing laws forbidding businesses from hiring LGBTQ people and forcing LGBTQ people into so-called "ex-gay" conversion therapy.

While homosexuality has never been illegal in Indonesia, attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years despite a growing gay population.

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