By Melanie Nathan, Oct 02, 2015.
A few days ago, the Sharia police, in Indonesia, arrested two young women aged 18 and 19, when they saw the pair hugging in a public place in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital. A police official told reporters that they “suspected the women were lesbians.” Yes with a mere hug, your sexuality can change! Beware!
The two women remain in police custody, but may be released to their families.
Aceh provincial government criminal code introduced an Islamic By-law, which went into effect in September 2014, prohibiting so called “lesbianism” and sodomy, an offenses which is not in the Indonesian national criminal code. This by-law included non-Muslims in this Sharia/ Islamic law.
The code punishes consensual same-sex sex acts with 100 lashes and 100 months in jail.
According to HRW:
“Under national legislation stemming from a “Special Status” agreement brokered in 1999, Aceh is the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt by-laws derived from Sharia. Aceh’s parliament drafted the Principles of the Islamic By-law, while the province’s official Islamic Affairs Office drafted the Islamic criminal code. These by-laws apply not only to Aceh’s predominantly Muslim population, but to about 90,000 non-Muslim residents, most of them Christians and Buddhists, as well as domestic and foreign visitors to the province.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Indonesia ratified in 2005, protects the rights to privacy and family (article 17), and freedom of religion (article 18) and expression (article 19). The covenant prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, and other status such as sexual orientation (article 2). It also prohibits punishments such as whipping that could amount to torture or cruel and inhuman punishment (article 7). The Free Aceh Movement, which made the 2005 peace agreement in Helsinki with the Indonesian government, is bound by the ICCPR (article 50) and had also agreed to adhere to the ICCPR in drafting the region’s laws.
In 2010, the head of the Wilayatul Hisbah told the Indonesian media that, in his opinion, homosexuality is forbidden in Aceh whether or not a local law prohibiting it exists. A 2014 United Nations report said that during the previous five years, “the situation for LGBT residents of Aceh and other marginalized communities has deteriorated.”
Aceh’s provincial legislature should urgently repeal the discriminatory by-laws, Human Rights Watch said. In the meantime, Governor Zaini Abdullah should stop the province’s Sharia police from arresting and detaining people suspected of “crimes” such as consensual same-sex relations.”