In May 2017, Islamic authorities in the Aceh province of Indonesia publicly caned two adult men for the crime of having consensual same-sex intercourse behind closed doors. The video of the caning went viral and now provincial officials are worried that the bad press will discourage investors from putting money into Indonesia. So Acehnese leaders have decided to end such floggings … in public, anyway.
According to the Asian news site coconuts.co, Aceh’s vice governor Nova Iriansyah has decided to “change the ‘technical implementation’ of the [public caning] law so that the corporal punishment is carried out privately, inside a prison with only a small audience, instead of in public for all (including the media) to see.”
The canings initially occurred in public as a social deterrent, but that is now being weighed against the effect that such public exposure has on foreign investors. Iriansyah says he “hoped the change would prevent stories about future canings from going viral on social media and creating more negative perceptions amongst investors.”
Here is a video of Indonesia’s most recent anti-gay public caning
The reason for the change is easy to understand. In short, anti-LGBTQ laws hurt business. Todd Sears, the founder and principal of the LGBTQ business organization, Out Leadership, recently explained why in a recent op-ed in The Jakarta Post:
“LGBT discrimination is something the global business community takes extremely seriously. It negatively affects companies’ ability to recruit and retain top talent, and it can prevent companies from locating their best talent within countries with hostile environments for LGBT people….
an Indonesia where discrimination is touted by public officials or embedded in the law will be increasingly out of step with the global economy. Indonesia’s investors should strongly question the economic implications of anti-LGBT laws and policies.”
The country’s anti-LGBTQ policies have already cost it an estimated $12 billion a year.
Sadly, the private canings will likely work in Indonesia’s favor (out of sight, out of mind), and the situation for LGBTQ Indonesians continues to worsen. After arresting and publicly humiliating 141 men at a popular Jakarta sauna in May 2017, an Indonesian police chief in the region of West Java announced a new police taskforce targeting LGBTQ citizens.
Despite the legality of homosexuality in Indonesia, the country is largely ruled by conservative Muslims. Approximately 93 percent of Indonesians oppose homosexuality; the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classifies LGBTQ identity as a mental disorder; the country’s ministers consider LGBTQ people a security risk and have started passing laws forbidding businesses from hiring LGBTQ people and forcing LGBTQ people into so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy.