Treatment of the LGBTI community in Aceh, Indonesia

  • May 25, 2017

Australia values its close relationship with Indonesia.

We enjoy a high degree of cooperation and so many Australians have experienced the warmth of Indonesian hospitality and the vibrancy of their culture.

Our friendship with Indonesia has been strengthened by our perception of a pluralistic, democratic and moderate Islamic nation.

Sadly recent events have given us cause to question that understanding.

This week, two young men, by virtue of their sexuality alone, were subject to the most appalling treatment by the judicial system in Aceh.

Cruel and sickening are the only words to describe the images of those men being caned at a public spectacle.

We recognise the process that brought an end to civil strife in Aceh.

Yet nothing should absolve the Indonesian government of its obligation to ensure all its citizens are afforded the basic human rights it has agreed to uphold through its international commitments.

That the operation of Sharia law should allow two people to be so inhumanely treated is not something we can standby and ignore – and nor should Indonesian authorities.

As Human Rights Watch documented in its 2016 report, what we witnessed this week reflects a broader trend to stigmatise and persecute members of the Indonesian LGBTI community.

I am grateful that our Foreign Minister has personally raised the events of this week with her Indonesian counterparts.

I also hope that others with influence, including leaders in our own Muslim community, will join in working to ensure no person, because of who they love or what they believe, is subject to this type of persecution.