5 October 2015
Over in homophobic Indonesia, two suspected lesbians detained earlier this week by Islamic Shariah police in the country's conservative Aceh province will undergo what an official described as "rehabilitation", and won't be charged with a crime.
The women, 18 and 19 years old, were taken in for questioning on Monday night by Sharia police officers who saw them sitting and hugging each other in Ulee Lheue, a coastal neighbourhood in the capital, Banda Aceh, according to the law enforcement Shariah police chief, Evendi Latief.
"They later confessed to be a lesbian couple and that was supported by pictures found on their hand phones," Latief said.
The two women, identified only by the initials "AS" and "N", will not be charged because a new criminal code for Aceh that criminalises homosexuality won't take effect until later this month, he said.
Under that code, any person found guilty of homosexuality could face up to 100 cane lashes or a maximum fine of 1 000 grams of fine gold or imprisonment of up to 100 months. Indonesia's national criminal code doesn't regulate homosexuality.
"They will undergo rehabilitation which involves psychologists from local Social Ministry office," Latief said. The two were transferred to the regular police's Women and Child Protection Unit, he said.
Human Rights Watch called on Indonesian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the two women. It said the women were arrested, contrary to the rights to non-discrimination and fundamental freedoms under Indonesia's constitution and international human rights law.
"The arrest of two women in Aceh for everyday behaviour is an outrageous abuse of police power that should be considered a threat to all Indonesians," said Graeme Reid, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program director at New York-based Human Rights Watch. "The Indonesian government needs to press Aceh to repeal its discriminatory new by-laws."
Source: Associated Press