woman whipped sharia indonesia aceh

Punished: An Acehnese woman covers her face as she is whipped in public for having sex outside marriage, an act which is punished under sharia law in the province of Aceh and is set to become a crime under state law in the entire country
Sex outside marriage is set to become a crime in Indonesia, following a proposal by lawmakers this week.

If the revision to the criminal code is passed by Parliament, sexual acts involving unmarried persons and gay sex in any form would be punishable by up to five years in prison.

Sex outside marriage is already considered a crime in Indonesia's Aceh province, where strict Shariah law is implemented and those who violate it are whipped in public.

Rights groups and legal experts fear this will set back human rights and privacy in Indonesia, and the spread of vigilantism, already common in parts of the sprawling Muslim-majority nation of more than 250 million people.

They are racing to organize opposition, and an online petition launched this week has gathered more than 20,000 signatures.

'Indonesia, whose constitution guarantees human rights and has ratified many human rights covenants, will be ridiculed by the world for creating a law that is potentially violating many of those rights,' said Said Muhammad Isnur, head of advocacy at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation.

While the possible criminalization of sex between unmarried consenting adults has grabbed attention, the revised criminal code, which has nearly 800 articles, also contains changes that could weaken checks and balances in Indonesia's young democracy.

One article potentially makes criticism of the president defamation and other articles could be used to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission, one of Indonesia's most effective public institutions.
aceh indonesia gay shariah

Punishment: Shariah policemen drag a man off a stage after he had been publically caned in Bandah Aceh province for having gay sex
Asrul Sani, a lawmaker from the Islamic-based United Development Party, has told reporters that a 25-member parliamentary working committee has agreed on nearly all the articles in the revised code.

It and another Islamic party are seeking longer prison sentences for gay sex in circumstances that involve force, public acts or pornography and that is still being argued, he said.


Tourism plays a hugely important part in Indonesian economy, and some 12million people visited the island nation in 2016.

The potential change to the criminal code outlawing gay sex and consensual sex between unmarried men and women would affect tourists as well as Indonesian citizens.

Andreas Harsono, Indonesia Researcher for Human Rights Watch, says: 'The wording is anyone who commits this crime, which means locals and also foreigners.

Comment: Sharia Law is already in effect in many countries around the world:

'On paper, the law will affect anyone, however, it might not be enforced against tourists, at least not in multicultural areas. It can depend on how much a hotel cooperates with police.

'In strict Muslim areas, such as Aceh and West Sumatra, couples already have to prove that they are married when they book a hotel room together.'

Statements from different committee members indicate there isn't total agreement but a majority of parties appear to have swung behind at least criminalization of gay sex.

Bambang Soesatyo, the speaker of Parliament and a lawmaker from the major secular party Golkar, said same-sex relationships should be criminalized because they could 'corrupt the morality of the nation.'

A few politicians outside the committee have raised concerns about the fundamental threat to privacy.

One of the obstacles in the way of the Islamic parties is President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's power of veto.

But with provincial elections due this year and a presidential race in 2019, it's unclear whether Jokowi is willing to risk political capital on protecting a hated and misunderstood minority or being seen as soft on morality issues.

'The Islamic parties are really using this issue as their marketing going into the political years, this year and next year,' said Bivitri Susantri, a constitutional law expert who helped establish the Indonesian Center of Law and Policy Studies.

'The only thing we can do is to push the government, the president, to stop this,' she said. 'Because if we see how the political parties, both the secular ones and the Islamic ones discuss this, I think this draft law will be passed as it is now.'

Islamic parties make up four of the ten factions in Indonesia's Parliament and due to the popular vote threshold being raised to 4 percent, are at risk of losing their seats in Parliament next year if they can't rouse their bases.
aceh indonesia transexual shariah

Shocking: Police in Indonesia released a picture of some of the 12 transgender women they arrested. Police cut their hair before forcing them to wear men's clothes and 'give them counselling and coaching' to act like 'real men'
They have typically commanded far less votes than secular parties, but their concerns resonate with a broad cross-section of Indonesians. Hard-line Muslim groups considered fringe a decade ago, such as the Islamic Defenders Front, have moved into the mainstream and shook Jokowi's government last year with a mass movement against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta, who was subsequently imprisoned for two years for blasphemy.

Conservative groups such as the Family Love Alliance believe Indonesia is being overwhelmed by immoral behavior such as sex between unmarried young couples, and in December nearly succeeding in convincing Indonesia's Constitutional Court to outlaw gay sex and sex outside marriage.

Moderate groups, meanwhile, have struggled to muster their forces. While many speak out online, that has little impact compared with the ability of Islamic groups to summon tens of thousands for mass protests.

The Islamic parties' message is perhaps at its most politically potent when aimed at Indonesia's besieged LGBT minority, which for the past two years has been the target of an escalating campaign of raids, arrests, hateful rhetoric from government officials and vigilante attacks.

Police in the conservative province of Aceh, which practices Shariah law, over the weekend rounded up 12 transgender people who worked in hair salons and publicly humiliated them by forcing them into men's clothing and cutting their hair.

Susantri and other legal experts said enforcement would be a huge and impossible burden on police and encourage vigilante acts from self-appointed 'guardians of morality,' undermining an already fragile rule of law in Indonesia.

She said people who practice religions not recognized by the state could also be criminalized because their marriages aren't recognized.

'The president should say no to this law,' Susantri said. 'But looking at how Jokowi is handling issues related to Islam I think he wouldn't do that.'

Sharia law in Banda Aceh: Public lashings in Indonesia

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, which implements Islamic law, or Sharia.

Last year, two gay men who admitted having sex were flogged in Aceh, with each receiving 100 strokes of the cane, drawing heavy criticism from rights groups.

Gay sex is not illegal in the rest of Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.

The province of Banda Aceh began implementing Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2001 - an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Islamic laws have been strengthened since Aceh struck a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005.

People are flogged for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, gay sex or any sexual relationship outside marriage.

Jono Simbolon (front), an Indonesian Christian, grimaces in pain as he is flogged in front of a crowd outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on January 19, 2018

Jono Simbolon (front), an Indonesian Christian, grimaces in pain as he is flogged in front of a crowd outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on January 19, 2018
More than 90 per cent of the 255million people who live in Indonesia describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.

The brutal and public beatings have become more prevalent this year with a number of reported incidents of those being punished collapsing in pain on stage.

Back in September 2014, Aceh approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes.

After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it remained part of the sprawling archipelago.

As part of that deal, Aceh won the right to be the only Indonesian province to use Islamic sharia law as its legal code.

An Acehnese woman was also lashed as part of the public caning on Friday outside a mosque after prayers had finished

An Acehnese woman was also lashed as part of the public caning on Friday outside a mosque after prayers had finished
Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex is punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.

The law also set out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.

Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.

Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia's national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world's largest Muslim population.

The trend appeared to be slowing down after a string of worrying incidents at the turn of the new year, but the new pictures reveal the practice still looms large in Indonesia.

Men and women have collapsed in pain due to the severity of their injuries and people can be caned for something as innocent as standing too close to a partner in public or being seen alone with someone they are not married to.

An Islamic enforcer holds the rattan stick against the back of Simbolon, who was whipped 36 times for selling alcohol in the province

An Islamic enforcer holds the rattan stick against the back of Simbolon, who was whipped 36 times for selling alcohol in the province
In the past two years or so, MailOnline has reported on the troubling rising trend of public lashings carried out in Aceh, Indonesia:

March 1, 2016: Woman whipped 50 times for spending time alone with a man at the age of 19.

March 24, 2016: Young woman carried from the stage on a stretcher after being lashed for sex outside marriage.

August 1, 2016: Another woman is lashed for going on a date in Aceh.

August 15, 2016: Elderly man caned for breaking Sharia law.

September 11, 2016: Man and a woman lashed for having an affair and among the gathered crowd is the mayor of Banda Aceh.

October 17, 2016: Muslim woman screams out in pain on stage after being lashed 23 times for standing too close to her boyfriend.

October 31, 2016: A woman, 20, caned in public for getting too close to a man she wasn't married to.

November 28, 2016: Man and a woman lashed 100 times each for adultery.

February 2, 2017: Enforcer lands 26 beatings across the back of a woman for having sex outside of wedlock.

February 10, 2017: Woman collapses in pain on stage as she is being caned.

February 27, 2017: Man collapses on stage as he is being whipped for having sex outside of marriage.

August 25, 2017: Ten Indonesians sentenced to up to 100 lashes of the whip for adultery.

September 12, 2017: Woman hospitalised after 100 lashes for being with a man who wasn't her husband.

November 17, 2017: Woman is caned for adultery.