Indonesia: Four Arrested for Same-Sex Conduct

(Jakarta) – Indonesian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release four people detained in Aceh under a local ordinance that criminalizes same-sex conduct, Human Rights Watch said today. Under Aceh’s Islamic Criminal Code, they face up to 100 lashes in public – a punishment that constitutes torture under international human rights law.

“These vigilante raids and arbitrary detentions underscore the abusive and discriminatory nature of Aceh’s criminal code,” said Graeme Reid, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights program. “Acehnese authorities should release the four and protect the public from marauding vigilantes who target vulnerable minorities.”

In separate raids on March 12 and March 29, 2018 in Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, vigilantes detained two individuals each time and turned them over to the Sharia (Islamic law) police (wilayatul hisbah). In the first raid, vigilantes targeted a hair salon and detained a man and a transgender woman who worked there. The Sharia police claim to have found “evidence” of same-sex conduct, including condoms and “transaction money” from the transgender woman.

On March 29, vigilantes forcibly entered a private house and called the Sharia police, who arrested two male college students for allegedly having sex. The Sharia police seized condoms, cell phones, and a mattress as evidence of their alleged “crime.” All four detainees remain in Sharia police custody, pending trial in a religious court.

The vigilantes appear to be neighborhood residents without any known affiliation with militant Islamists in the area. These raids and the risk of punishment involving torture highlight the nexus between the vigilantes and Aceh’s Sharia police in discriminating against suspected LGBT people. In May 2017, after a summary trial, Aceh’s Sharia police publicly caned 83 times two men who had been arrested in a vigilante raid for same-sex conduct.

In January, Aceh police arrested 12 people in raids on five hair salons. Police quickly released three male hair salon customers. However, police beat, kicked, and humiliated nine transgender women employed in the salons by forcing them to roll over in a grass field. Read more via HRW