While Taiwan is known to be the most gay-friendly place in Asia, Indonesia might be a tourist destination you might want to skip. The province of Aceh just enacted a law where being gay can result in 100 lashes with a cane — whether you’re a tourist or an Indonesian citizen, or whether or not you’re Muslim.
The law was passed in 2014, but only came into effect last month. According to the law, homosexuality can be punished by caning, 100 months in jail, or a fine of one kilogram of gold — or about $35,000. According to Human Rights Watch, Aceh police have also arrested lesbians for hugging in public and legally harass and detain transgender Indonesians.
Aceh is the most religiously conservative province in Indonesia, and the only one allowed to enact Sharia Law — the result of a 2005 peace accord between the Indonesian government and the Aceh separatist movement (which dates back to the 1970s). In exchange for autonomy when it comes to law enforcement, Aceh agrees to remain part of Indonesia.
The rest of Indonesia practices a more moderate form of Islam, and homosexuality isn’t illegal in the rest of the country. While Indonesia is also the home to the Q! Film Festival — the largest queer film festival in Asia and the only of its kind in a predominantly Muslim country — homophobia is rampant, with 93 percent of Indonesians saying that LGBTQ rights, nor same-sex marriage, should not be accepted.
Amnesty International reports that at least 156 people have been caned for various offenses in Aceh between 2010 and 2014.
(Featured Image via Rifat Attamimi)