Two men in Indonesia were caned 83 times on Tuesday for having gay sex.

This is surprisingly new for Aceh, Indonesia’s most conservative province, that, unlike the rest of Indonesia, follows strict Islamic laws. These laws condemn same-sex relations and deem it illegal. Despite the harshness of these laws, it is rare for men to be caned for same-sex relations in Aceh.

Unfortunately for these two men, they were arrested by vigilantes in March. Their neighbours had filmed them naked with camera phones and shared the videos widely on local media. The two men, aged 20 and 23, were brought before a Sharia court on Wednesday, May 17th, and subsequently sentenced to 85 canings.

Lead judge Khairil Jamal said that “the court has proven that the defendants, without doubt, are legally guilty of committing sodomy.” He later stated that “No evidence was found to justify and forgive them. Therefore, they shall be punished accordingly.”

The punishments took place at a well-secured mosque in Banda Aceh, despite protests from LGBT and human rights activists. It began at 9 a.m. and ended four hours later. Two canings were taken off because of the two months the men had each spent in jail. More than a thousand people watched and cheered as the men were caned. Four more couples were caned that day for intimate relations outside of marriage. 

This comes amid a growing concern for Indonesia’s LGBT population. Despite Aceh being the only Indonesian province to follow these strict Islamic laws, gay people are oft-discriminated against in other regions of Indonesia. In North Jakarta, on Sunday evening, the police raided what was called a gay sex party and arrested 141 men. 

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