Petition to Facebook: Drop dangerous ‘real names’ policy

Drag queen Sister Roma campaigned successfully for a change in Facebook's "real names" policy. (Photo courtesy of Sister Roma via Twitter)

Drag queen Sister Roma campaigned successfully for a change in Facebook’s “real names” policy. (Photo courtesy of Sister Roma via Twitter)

An online petition urges Facebook to drop its policy of requiring users to use their authentic names.

Australian LGBTI activist Sally Golder organized the petition on the website Change.org in connection with a challenge to Facebook by drag queens in San Francisco, who lobbied for the right to use their stage names.

The drag queens won that battle, but LGBTI people in anti-gay countries did not win the right to hide their identities on Facebook in order to protect themselves from anti-gay attacks.

A Change.org petition supporting the drag queens, “Allow performers to use their stage names on their Facebook accounts,” gained the support of more than 36,000 people.

Goldner’s petition, “Allow flexibility regarding names,” which focuses on how the policy affects LGBTI people worldwide, so far has won support from 146 people.

For more information, see this blog’s commentary from earlier today: “Facebook will have blood on its hands if it demands real names.”

This is the text of Goldner’s petition:

Sally Goldner (Photo courtesy of Brisbane Times)

Sally Goldner (Photo courtesy of Brisbane Times)

There are many groups whose safety, health and wellbeing could be diminished and possibly their life put at risk by the “use your legally documented name” policy proposed by facebook.

Trans and gender diverse people – those whose sense of gender identity or expression differs from expectations given their sex assigned at birth – are just one such group. Here are just some of the issues for us.

The issues for trans could well be life-threatening. A trans person who is just at the start of the journey, especially so if starting younger, would be not able to set up a separate profile to find out information and would be highly likely lose potential connectedness, thereby increasing risk factors including self-harm.

Someone who does not permanently affirm their identity and occasionally presents as another would only be able to have one Facebook identity. So – to use the usual case of someone occasionally presenting as male and occasionally as female – they would have to out themselves. And in a group on Facebook, having someone presenting as femme with a name John Smith would just not be respectful or make sense.

While not a lawyer, FB’s policy has a significant probability of breaching anti-discrimination laws here in Australia regarding provision of goods and services. Also, I believe (emphasis) here, legally, people can have a name by usage or repute.

And of course for those countries beyond Australia where life is far worse for trans – and many similar others – doubly quadruply life-threatening.

I would also acknowledge another change.org petition re performers. I also acknowledge others affected by this proposed change .e.g those working in the sex industry, those who are experiencing/have experienced domestic violence. I cannot speak for these groups; I certainly empathise with their concerns.

Facebook’s changes are not in their own interests as well. I would think many people will leave thereby reducing customer numbers and damaging their reputation. I also cannot see how this sits compatibly with the introduction of more gender identity options that commenced recently.

So please sign this petition and create a win-win solution for all – most of all a win for in terms of saving lives.

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Facebook will have blood on its hands if it demands real names

COMMENTARY

Journalist/activist Eric Ohena Lembembe of Cameroon, who identified himself as "Eric Ohena" on Facebook, wrote several articles warning LGBTI Cameroonians to beware of online blackmailers. He was murdered in July 2013.

Journalist/activist Eric Ohena Lembembe of Cameroon, who identified himself as “Eric Ohena” on Facebook, wrote several articles warning LGBTI Cameroonians to beware of online blackmailers. He was murdered in July 2013.

I don’t believe Facebook’s insistence that  it’s sticking with its supposed policy of requiring users to give their real names.

In violently homophobic countries, such a policy would be devastating for LGBTI people, but it’s not actually in force there. Many LGBTI people can only use Facebook under assumed names, and that’s what they do, because doing otherwise would put their lives at risk.

Nor would Facebook benefit from widespread enforcement of that policy in anti-gay countries. The company would justifiably become the focus of terrible publicity if forcing LGBTI people to identify themselves led to their murder by anti-gay Facebook trolls.

The policy might work in the United States, where drag queens have appealed unsuccessfully to be allowed to continue using their stage names, but in many countries Facebook benefits only from keeping that policy on paper, without strict enforcement.

Nevertheless, BuzzFeed reported today:

Facebook logo

Facebook logo

A Facebook spokesman has confirmed that the company’s controversial policy requiring users to give their real names applies even in countries where police are known to be monitoring the network to enforce laws against homosexuality.

The real-name policy is “a policy for everyone that uses Facebook,” spokesman Andrew Souvall told BuzzFeed News.Though officials in countries like Egypt are known to be monitoring the network partly to enforce anti-LGBT laws, Souvall said, Facebook believes the policy is important to keeping users safe.

“Having people use the names they use in their everyday life on Facebook makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech.”

Souvall has it backward.

Harassment, blackmail, and hate speech will increase if that policy is enforced more broadly, because the policy makes many malicious uses of Facebook possible. For examples from Kenya, Cameroon and Zimbabwe, see the “Related articles” section below for incidents  of online harassment and blackmail based on information found on Facebook and gay dating sites.

Also today, Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, apologized in a Facebook post to “the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community.”

He described a more flexible policy that would not “require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess.”  That may satisfy drag queens in the United States, but it does not remove the danger that LGBTI Facebook users would face in anti-gay countries if they identified themselves with “the authentic name they use in real life.”

Cox’s full statement is below.

Related articles

Statement by Chris Cox, as reported by the Huffington Post

I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.

In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.

The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.

Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what’s been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.

We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons. First, it’s part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it’s the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it’s both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.

All that said, we see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we’re already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.

(This post was updated on Oct. 1 to include Cox’s statement.)

 

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Russian court: Anti-‘gay propaganda’ law is constitutional

Caucasus Equality News reports:

Nikolai Alexeyev (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Nikolai Alexeyev (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Russia’s Constitutional Court [on Sept. 25] ruled that the country’s controversial anti-‘gay propaganda’ law is not against the Russian constitution after an appeal made by three LGBT activists.

Nikolai Alexeyev, Dimitri Isakov and Yaroslav Yevutshenko brought the case to the court, claiming that the law, which bans the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ and the discussion of homosexuality with minors, was in breach of the Russian constitution.

For more information, read the full article in Caucasus Equality News, “Russian court rules homophobic ‘propaganda law’ is not against constitution.”

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Russian QueerFest: Success despite attacks, threats

QueerFest scene (Photo courtesy of GLAAD)

QueerFest scene (Photo courtesy of GLAAD)

The organizers of QueerFest in St. Petersburg, Russia, say the 10-day event was a success, despite interference and threats of violence from police and anti-gay extremists. This is their account:

Saturday, September 27, Russian “QueerFest” closed with a discussion on art and civil citizenship, and a final concert “St. Petersburg against Homophobia”, visited by 300 people.

Despite the extreme pressures on the festival from right-wing extremists, the police, and the cancellation of venues, the sixth annual “QueerFest” ended on a high note of success.

Organizers declared Saint Petersburg's QueerFest 2014 a success. (Photo courtesy of GLAAD)

Organizers declared Saint Petersburg’s QueerFest 2014 a success. (Photo courtesy of GLAAD)

From the very opening ceremony, which had to change location in the hour prior to the event due to a sudden cancellation of contract from the venue — apparently, the arch above the entrance door was about to collapse — it became clear each day would be a struggle to stay public, visible, and safe.

In the next 10 days, the festival faced four last-minute venue cancellations, over 40 venue refusals, one bomb threat, and frequent visits by aggressive men. Twenty-four complaints were filed with the police from victims of the attack at the opening. Organizers discovered that venues were pressured by the police, whose main argument was that “public disturbances” would ensue for which the venues would be held responsible, and with threats of checks and audits. Several events had to take place in “closed” formats with an online feed.

QueerFest logo

QueerFest logo

However, the festival’s goal being an open dialogue with the public, going “underground” could not be a solution, and the last main three events were open for everyone.

Of those, the lecture by Linor Goralik on teaching tolerance to kids was attended by 140 people, over 25 percent of them heterosexuals.

Overall, more than 1000 people visited the festival’s events, while another 800 more joined online. The festival received a lot of media coverage, and gained new allies.

Thanks to the resilience of our partners — the European University of St. Petersburg, the Norwegian University Center, the Institute for Regional Press, the club Infinity — who stood up to the threats of the police; the incredible endurance of the festival’s volunteers working around the clock, and the faith of the LGBT people of St. Petersburg and their allies, who kept coming to the events regardless of the threats to safety, the festival reached its goals of empowering LGBT people and reaching wider audiences with the message of tolerance.

“The fact that so much effort was made to close us down speaks to the relevance of our event, and the fact that we made it is a boost for LGBT community’s confidence. We showed that together we are strong enough to persist, as long as we are needed,” says Polina Andrianova, one of the festival’s organizers.

We thank all of our partners and colleagues who provided support, attended events, and made the festival happen.

(This article was revised Oct. 1 to fix inaccurate links to Queerfest.)

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Ugandan viewpoint: ‘a dead activist is not a good activist’

Clare Byarugaba (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

Clare Byarugaba (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

Perseverance. Fear. Difficulties. Threats. Tolerance. Leadership.  Those are some of the themes of an interview with Clare Byarugaba, who until this summer was co-leader of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which led the opposition to that country’s now-overturned Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Byarugaba was interviewed before starting a human rights fellowship this semester at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, U.S. The following are extensive excerpts from that interview.

Clare Byarugaba, the 2014 Oak Human Rights Fellow, is a prominent advocate for LGBT rights in Uganda, where a law was recently passed that outlawed homosexuality and “promotion” of it. She continued to work under threat of arrest and violence, and her photograph was published in a popular Ugandan tabloid, identifying her as “a gay recruiter.” Byarugaba will spend the fall semester at Colby, where she will teach a course and continue her work. She was interviewed by Colby Magazine this summer.

How are things going?

We continue to persevere. And continue to work under very difficult circumstances. 

Are you in hiding?

Generally I can’t go to the office as frequently as I used to. So I either have to work from home or work from another office. Basically stay away from the public eye. It is quite stressful.

How does this affect your work as an advocate?

Clare Byarugaba poses with Colby College students (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

Clare Byarugaba poses with Colby College students (Photo courtesy of Colby Magazine)

People cannot come to the office to see you. We are afraid sometimes that our phones are tapped. I had to change my SIM card twice. And of course [there are] the threats online and by phone. At the same time, this law was passed to ensure that we go into oblivion, that we run for the hills. But we are trying to remain defiant and continue to work as best we can with the situation.

Does the law reflect public opinion as it’s been for some time, or did the passage of the law inflame public opinion?

It’s definitely inflamed it. People never thought about this issue or were deeply involved. The people became hysterical once the law was passed. Ugandans listen a lot to their leaders. They feel it’s very important to be vigilant and rid Uganda of gay people.

What is the Ugandan government’s motive?

If we start to have some small victories around equality, then another group that is being marginalized will start to speak out. … They also want to divert attention away from issues that they are failing to deal with. Corruption. The failing health-care system. The failing education system. They’d rather have an issue like homosexuality that excites people. …

Are you ever tempted to stop your work?

I feel like it would just be much, much easier being an average woman, hiding her sexuality, not being political. When you start to do this kind of work, you know that as a leader people count on you. People keep telling me all the time, “Why don’t you get out of that country?” I tell them I would never seek asylum unless things get really bad. I don’t know how bad it would get for me to be willing to leave my country.

I read a news story that reported your mother said she should turn you in to the police. True?

Yes. She has threatened. I like to think that was her being angry, that at the end of the day she would be a mother and protect me. The homophobia would not overpower her love for me as her daughter.

Are you estranged from your family?

To a large extent I am. My parents say, “Just stay away. We can’t have you be around. People have been asking questions.” That’s very painful. … I have a brother who is a little bit progressive and always says he has my back. So I can take that and say at least I have someone in my family that would probably rescue me from jail.

David Kato, who is considered a father of Uganda's gay rights movement, appears here in a scene from the movie "Call Me Kuchu." Kato was murdered in 2011.

David Kato, who is considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement, appears here in a scene from the movie “Call Me Kuchu.” Kato was murdered in 2011.

Did you know David Kato [Oak candidate and Ugandan LGBT rights activist who was outed and murdered]?

Yes. We lost an amazing, amazing activist, one of the pioneers. I felt very strong about trying to fill those shoes.

Do you fear you might suffer the same fate?

Every day. It’s scary. I feel like each and every one of us might suffer the same fate, and we don’t deserve it. But I feel like the price of our activism is that high. People generally hate gay people and we are targeted. But we can only pray and hope we don’t suffer that fate. Because I believe strongly that a dead activist is not a good activist.

Do you receive death threats?

Yes, I do, all the time. We try to use social media and all the spaces that don’t put us into so much trouble. If I was going to go on TV right now to talk about gay issues, I would be arrested. I would be promoting homosexuality.

Jail would also be a very harsh experience, according to news reports.

Yes, my worst fear, honestly, as a lesbian activist, is corrective rape. Because if the president has said that gay people can change, then I feel people will go to any lengths to make you think how you should be as a woman. I’m very afraid that that would happen to us in jail.

Reading recent news may leave some with the impression that Uganda is a very repressive country. Is this painting with too broad a brush?

Yes. I totally believe that Ugandans are largely tolerant. The country I grew up in as a child, in a village setting, was one where people actually shared—shared sugar, shared everything. Our neighbors’ kids would not sleep hungry if there was food in my mother’s house. People look out for each other. I choose to believe that my country is not that kind of a country where people are targeted simply because they are different. Maybe I’m an idealist, maybe that’s what keeps me going. I think there’s definitely possibility for change.

Then how did this law pass?

The biggest problem is the leadership. It is the religious leaders that come and say, “If we accept gay people, Sodom and Gomorrah will come upon us.” A member of Parliament has said, “Gay people are after your children. Gay people are trying to destroy the tradition of marriage.” People are afraid of these things. So I don’t believe people hate just because they can. People have been taught to hate. People have been taught homophobia.

What do you hope to accomplish while you’re at Colby?

It’s a time for me to connect with people at an international level and hopefully try to organize activism in a way that is helpful for our cause back home. But apart from that it’s very important to get out of Uganda for a while, to have some time to respite, and to put myself in the larger context of sexual rights in Uganda. It’s a huge, huge deal for me.

For more information, read the full interview in Colby Magazine,  “Hiding in Plain View.”

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Canon Ogle on the move; ‘lot of work to do’ on LGBTI rights

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports local LGBTI rights groups in many countries with anti-gay laws, is preparing to open a new office on the East Coast of the United States.

The move will occur as the foundation’s president and founder, the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, leaves California after 32 years of ministry there.

Ogle is relocating to a parish near the power centers of New York City and Washington, D.C.  He will become the 31st vicar for the Episcopal congregation of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, about 85 miles north of New York City. That half-time position will allow him to return to a parish ministry of preaching and pastoral care while continuing his work as an international human rights advocate.

Ogle said, “There is something profoundly grounding when you share in the liturgical seasons with a congregation and I have missed that since leaving St. George’s [in Laguna Hills, Calif.] eight years ago.”

The work of the foundation will continue on both coasts, he said:

“I leave the St. Paul’s Foundation’s local Chapter [in San Diego, Calif.] in the capable hands of Lindy Miles, Susan Guinn, David Reicks and Gary Voice,  who all serve on our Board, and Jim and Mary Keely as coordinators with the cathedral community.

“This is not an end, merely a deepening of our spiritual roots so the work of the people of God can be more effective. The effects of rabid religious fundamentalism are not going to disappear anytime soon. We have a lot of work to do.”

Sanctuary and stained glass windows at St. Peter's, Lithgow.

Sanctuary and stained glass windows at St. Peter’s, Lithgow.

Ogle was ordained in the Anglican Church of Ireland in 1977 and, after a short time in London, moved to California in 1982. He was named an Honorary Canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2002 and, a decade later, a Canon of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego.

Ogle also worked in many non-profit organizations on issues such as homelessness, LGBT rights, family poverty  and AIDS.  In the early 1980s, he worked in the economically disadvantaged communities of Watts, South Central Los Angeles and Northwest Pasadena, as well as with street children in Hollywood.

As one of three openly gay clergy at that time in the Episcopal Church, he worked at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as youth director and acting executive director, established the first state-sponsored youth home for LGBT youth, and negotiated the first HIV testing program in the state that offered both health and mental health services.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle poses in Uganda with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which works with the St. Paul's Foundation to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle poses in Uganda with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which works with the St. Paul’s Foundation to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.

Ogle designed the first comprehensive HIV plan for Los Angeles in 1986 and a statewide plan that helped to double the state’s budget for HIV prevention and care in 1987. This model was used in All Saint’s Pasadena to create the AIDS Service Center, for which he became the first executive director.

From 1992 to 1997, on a half-time basis, he assisted the Anglican Church of Uganda with disease prevention strategies and funding and introduced morphine to Uganda for the first time as a legal drug in 1996 as a result of a grant from the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation.

In 2008, he received an M. Phil. degree in International Peace Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, with a thesis titled “Returning to Places of Wounded Memory: The Role of World Heritage in Reconciliation.” He then returned to California to work on the Proposition 8 (marriage equality) campaign through the work of the California Council of Churches and Equality California. At the same time, he served as a consultant for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites program. His interest in the historic sites of St. Paul as the basis for international reconciliation led to the establishment of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation in 2010, based at the cathedral in San Diego.

In its first four years, the Foundation sought to build dialogue between the LGBT community and religious leaders who were often leading political campaigns in many of the approximately 80 countries where LGBT people were criminalized. Ogle said he was moved by the motivation of Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who called St. Paul “his mentor” because of Paul’s inclusive and universal values of reconciliation. The Foundation provided support and technical assistance to the bishop for three years.

St. Peter's, Lithgow, N.Y.

St. Peter’s, Lithgow, N.Y.

The Foundation was the first organization to encourage the World Bank to begin to look at international LGBT issues as a poverty issue. Based on  his work in Cameroon, Jamaica and Uganda, the U.S. State Department appointed him to serve on an Advisory Body looking at religion and LGBT issues. He has received many recognitions from state and local bodies and received Equality California’s Pride in Action Award in 2012 and KPBS’s Local Hero Award this year.

Ogle will preach his final sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego on Sunday, Nov. 16. A more informal celebration of his ministry will be held at Heat Bar and Grill in North Park, San Diego, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 7. Ugandan ally Maxensia Nakibuuka will be present at the celebration before returning to Uganda the next day. Gifts can be made to support the Foundation’s work in Cameroon, Jamaica and Uganda.

For more information, read the press release announcing Ogle’s move.

 

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Americas, Faith and religion, International pressure for LGBT rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Indonesian region OKs whipping for gay sex, adultery

Indonesia map shows Aceh province. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

Indonesia map shows Aceh province at the northwest tip of Sumatra. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

The Indonesian province of Aceh on Sept. 27 approved a bill that converts  strict Islamic Sharia rules on morality into the province’s criminal law, including a punishment of 100 lashes for homosexuality and extramarital sex, Australia’s SBS News and BuzzFeed reported.

The law, which also applies to non-Muslims, also punishes the drinking of alcohol, gambling, and mixing between men and women, SBS News stated.

Aceh won autonomy — and the right to impose Sharia codes — in 2001 as part of a deal to end a long-running fight for independence from Indonesia, making it one of the few places in Southeast Asia under Sharia laws, BuzzFeed reported. The small Southeast Asian state of Brunei has come under intense pressure after imposing an even more severe set of rules earlier this year, BuzzFeed said.

SBS reported:

Ramli Sulaiman, chairman of an Aceh parliamentary commission that drafted the law, said proving extramarital and gay sex would be difficult.

“There must be clear evidence and four witnesses who saw the act themselves,” he said.

“We can’t just accuse people of having extramarital or homosexual sex.”

The law also applies to non-Muslims, but they can choose to be punished under sharia law or secular national law, he said.

Amnesty International criticised the law as “an enormous step backwards for human rights”.

“Laws that criminalise sex outside marriage violate the right to privacy and are used disproportionately to police and punish women’s choices,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director.

“They also act as a deterrent to women reporting rape and sexual violence who may fear being accused of sex outside marriage.”

Amnesty said at least 156 people have been caned in Aceh since 2010 for offences such as gambling, mixing with the opposite sex and selling food during the Ramadan fasting month.

Officials said canings are mainly intended to humiliate rather than hurt the offenders.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province allowed to impose sharia, as part of the central government’s attempts to pacify a clamour for independence.

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, deputy mayor of Banda Aceh (Photo courtesy of Acehterkini.com)

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, deputy mayor of Banda Aceh (Photo courtesy of Acehterkini.com)

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, the deputy mayor of Banda Aceh, the province’s capital, had been pushing for the legislation since at least May 2014, according to the Jakarta Globe.

“There is no law that could be used to charge them,” the newspaper quoted Illiza as saying. “The existing [regulations] only stipulate about khalwat [being in close proximity] for intimate relations between unmarried males and females.” Banda Aceh’s Shariah Police have struggled to crack down on same-sex relationships, Illiza said. Couples meet in rented rooms and pursue relationships under a veil of secrecy, she said.

“Even if one case of homosexuality found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah,” Illiza stated.

The Aceh proposal continues a legislative and human-rights struggle that has been going on for years. As the Star Observer of Australia reported in 2009:

“In 2002 the Indonesian Government granted legal autonomy to Aceh, allowing the province to institute Islamic Sharia law, a framework that explicitly punishes homosexual acts.

“It was subsequently reported that 52 regions across the islands of Sumatra and Java adopted laws prohibiting homosexuality, including the city of Palembang in South Sumatra where punishment includes jail and fines.

“Indonesian lobby group Arus Pelangi launched a campaign against these regional statutes in October 2006. Many LGBT people are arrested and detained, often without charges or clear reason, only to be released after a few days, Arus Pelangi spokesman Widodo Budi said.”

For more information, reach the full BuzzFeed article, “Gay And Extramarital Sex To Be Punished With 100 Lashes In Indonesia’s Aceh Province” and the full SBS News article, “100 lashes for extramarital and gay sex in Aceh.”

 

MORE BUZZFEED????

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/gay-and-extramarital-sex-to-be-punished-with-100-lashes-in-i#1ibk4or

Posted in Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Asia, Faith and religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment