Alarming Anti-LGBTQ Crackdown in Indonesia Continues

by HRC Staff

Indonesia is a largely conservative Muslim-majority country with overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people.

Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global   

This post was updated on July 20, 2018

Last week, two men were flogged in public in Aceh, Indonesia, for having sex with other men while hundreds of onlookers cheered on the caning. The public spectacle occurred despite a recent pledge by officials to stop the barbaric practice of punishing suspected same sex acts with violence. Thirteen other people were also flogged for a variety of perceived crimes such as showing affection in public and selling or drinking alcohol. Aceh is an autonomous Indonesia province governed by a strict form of Sharia law. HRC will continue to monitor the treatment of LGBTQ people in Aceh and around the world who face barbaric forms of punishment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On May 21, 2017, almost 150 men were arrested during a raid in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, according to The New York Times. Police arrested the men in a  move representing a dramatic widening of last year’s spate of harsh verbal attacks on the LGBTQ community by senior government figures and religious leaders.

While same-sex acts are not illegal in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, LGBTQ people are nevertheless socially ostracized, frequently harassed and attacked by religious leaders and vigilantes. The police released several photographs of the arrested men to the media, exposing their identities to family and friends and potentially putting them at risk of social ostracism and violence.  

The New York Times reported that the detainees were arrested on suspicion of violating a broad pornography law, which has previously been used to target the LGBTQ community.

Additionally, just last week, two gay men were sentenced to 85 lashes in the Indonesian province of Aceh. Aceh is a small autonomous region of Indonesia where Sharia law is in force. The men were publicly caned today by hooded Sharia law officials. Thousands of jeering spectators snapped pictures outside a mosque as the brutal punishment was meted out.    

Indonesia is a largely conservative Muslim-majority country with overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people. A Pew Research Center study in 2013 found that 93 percent of Indonesians disapproved of homosexuality with only three percent approving. A joint United Nations and USAID report in 2014 found that Indonesian LGBTQ people face a broad range of legal, social, cultural, political, religious, educational, family and media challenges.

The Indonesian government must release those who are currently being held and halt the increased targeting of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more about HRC Global’s work here.