The Persecution of a Gay Couple in Aceh: The Problematic Side That Discriminates LGBTQ+ in Indonesia

On Mar. 28, 2017, there was a news about two gay men got caught having sex by the religious police. According to a cell phone video that was recorded by one of the religious police, one of the men was distressed and said “please brother, please stop,” to the police. People can clearly see that the police beat them up before brought them to the police office.

They will get 100 lashes and the sentence will be held in front of a mosque and it is for public. The worst part about it is that the police allowed the ‘audiences’ to record it as a video or take a picture of it.

Sadly, this kind of public humiliations is a ‘normal’ thing in Aceh, an Islamic province on the east side of Indonesia on Sumatra island. Since 2014, Aceh passed a law that said they will start to lash gay men with 100 lashes if they get caught having sex. This law is a continuation of the Sharia law that has been established since 2004 in that province. Before this, the Sharia law in Aceh already have punishment for people who drink alcohol, do drugs, and the other ‘moral crimes’.

This policy that Aceh has as a province already get criticized from the international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and United Nations. In a press conference in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia on 13th of November 2012, Navi Pillay, high commissioner for Human Rights, stated that she has a deep concern for the protection of human rights in Indonesia, especially the sharia law in Aceh. “I was also concerned to hear about police violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community and urged the Government to ensure their protection. I also encouraged the Government to ensure sexual and reproductive rights of unmarried girls and women,” she said in the press conference, according to the article from the United Nations News Center. But, on the other hand, she believes that Indonesia can change to become a vibrant democracy country. Besides Navi Pillay, there are four other United Nations special rapporteurs that wrote to the Indonesian government because they are concern about the Sharia law that discriminating the LGBTQ+ people that live in Aceh.

Since January 2016, the discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community in Indonesia has been increasing. Raids, attack on the activist, statements that forbid LGBTQ+ students from entering the universities, and discrimination from the society. Even thought Mr. President, Joko Widodo, already stated that everyone should act and defend everyone in Indonesia, regardless of their status, there is no legal action that happened along the way. What is going on right now is the Supreme Court trying to criminalize LGBTQ+ and premarital sex.

Critics are not enough to open the eyes of Indonesians, especially the government, more specific to the government that rules Aceh as a province. Actions, even though as small as to be friend with LGBTQ+ people and stop calling them names, are needed. Do not ever let the discriminations continue and keep fighting to make Indonesia open their eyes about what is the real deal that happening in here.



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