aceh1Indonesia: Amnesty International has criticized lawmakers in an Indonesian province for taking an enormous step backwards for human rights by passing a law allowing the country’s utra-conservative Aceh province to punish same-sex relations and extramarital sex with 100 lashes of the cane.

The Aceh parliament Sept 27  passed the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code, a bylaw which criminalizes a range of acts – including same-sex sexual activity, sex outside marriage and “being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not a marriage partner or relative.” Those found guilty could face caning, imprisonment or fines imposed by Islamic courts.

The new law imposes up to 100 lashes of the cane for such “crimes” should never have been passed and is an enormous step backwards for human rights in Aceh, said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director. Aceh parliament should immediately repeal or revise the provisions of the bylaw which violate human rights, he added.

“The criminalization of individuals based on their sexual orientation is a huge blow for equality in Indonesia, and violates the country’s international human rights commitments. This law will only add to the climate of homophobia, fear and harassment many in Aceh are already facing,” he said

“Caning is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that is clearly prohibited under international law. Victims not only experience pain and humiliation, but also often face long-term physical or psychological scars,” he added.

Although Indonesia is the world`s most populous Muslim-majority nation,  Aceh is the only province to enforce  Islamic sharia law since 2001, when it gained some powers of autonomy after protracted seceding related  problems.

At least 156 people have been caned in Aceh since 2010 after the Aceh parliament in 2009 passed the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code which provided for stoning to death for “adultery” and caning of up to 100 lashes for same-sex sexual relations and premarital sex.

However, the Aceh Governor had then refused to approve this code and it was not implemented. The stoning sentence which was initially included in the revision of the code has since been removed but the just enacted  new Criminal Code continues to impose caning as a form of punishment, Amnesty International said.

Ache already bans alcohol consumption, gambling, fraternizing between unmarried men and women, and physical displays of affection outside of marriage.

Source: amnesty.org

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