Two cruel variants of homophobia: Zambia and Indonesia

Late last month, two nations thousands of miles apart displayed two examples of the ongoing damage that homophobia wreaks: the arrest of a 13-year-old in Zambia and whippings in Indonesia.


Stay up-to-date: Get a free subscription to Erasing 76 Crimes


Each of two men accused of having gay sex was caned on Jan. 28 in Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Strait Times/AFP)

In Indonesia on Jan. 28, the enforcers of strict sharia law in Aceh province imposed a punishment of nearly 80 lashes each against two men convicted of engaging in gay sex.  Conservative Muslim authorities in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, regularly order people to be whipped if they violate strict sharia laws against homosexuality, adultery, drinking alcohol and meeting members of the opposite sex.

Also on Jan. 28, four other people in Banda Aceh were whipped 17 to 40 times for drinking and for unchaperoned visits with the opposite sex.

In Zambia, a local news site reported on a homophobic police reaction to an inappropriate and reportedly non-consensual sexual encounter between two boys on Jan. 27.

The homosexual sex was described with the outdated phrase “against the order of nature”.  No further information was available about what occurred after the boy’s arrest.

Mwebantu.com reported:

Police arrest boy aged 13 for having sex with a 10-year-old boy against the order of nature

Map of Zambia shows Kitwe north of the capital, Lusaka, near the Congo border. (Map courtesy of Theodora.com)

A 13-year-old boy of Kitwe has been arrested for having sex with a 10-year-old boy against the order of nature.

Copperbelt Police Commissioner Elias Chushi said the incident happened [Jan. 27] in a stream near the 16 feet area in Kitwe.

Mr Chushi said two female passerbys witnessed the act. …

He said some children disclosed that the suspect has been abusing them for some time now….

“Medical report forms issued and victims escorted to Kitwe Teaching Hospital for medical examinations. The suspect has since been arrested,” he said.

The Independent reported:

Two Indonesian men flogged in Aceh province for having gay sex

BANDA ACEH (AFP) – A gay couple were flogged in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province Thursday (Jan 28), justice officials said, in a public spectacle lambasted by human rights groups.

The two men were whipped nearly 80 times each for having gay sex, which is outlawed in Aceh province under local Islamic law.

The pair, who were not identified, winced in pain and pleaded for the whipping to stop, as a masked officer beat their backs with a rattan stick.

The punishment was briefly halted and the men, both in their twenties, were allowed a drink of water before it continued.

The mother of one man fainted at the sight of her son being whipped.

“Islamic syariah enforcement is final, no matter who it is, and even visitors must respect local norms,” public order official Heru Triwijanarko told AFP.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (Photo courtesy of abc.net.au)
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called for an end to flogging as a punishment, but he has no power to force Aceh province to accept that reform. (Photo courtesy of abc.net.au)

The men were arrested in November at a rental home where a landlord found them half-naked in their room.

Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia and Aceh is the only region in the world’s biggest Muslim nation that imposes syariah law.

In Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences that include gambling, drinking alcohol and adultery.

Four others were whipped between 17 and 40 times on the same day over allegations they drank alcohol or met with members of the opposite sex.

Human rights groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.

But it has strong support among Aceh’s population.

The region started using religious law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Related articles:

Local context:

Wider context:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

Leave a Reply

Cameroon: 4 shelters welcome LGBTQ+ victims of violence

In a nation wracked by violence, Kay Trans Ayiti welcomes trans Haitians