Bad News in Indonesia; Potential Good News in India

Here’s a lovely story out of Aceh, Indonesia: “Fifteen people, including five women, were punished with public caning Friday for violating Sharia law in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province. Two men accused of being gay received 87 lashes each for gay sex, while nine others were sentenced up to 26 lashes for adultery. Four people were caned for being drunk, including one woman who received 27 lashes.”

As reported by Euan McKirdy on, “The flogging was attended by hundreds of spectators, including children, outside the Baiturrahim Mosque in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital. In video of the punishment seen by CNN, people can be heard jeering as the detainees, who are wearing white, traditional koko shirts, are brought up to the scaffold in front of the mosque.”

Lest you think Aceh is a totally backward place, “[Onlookers] took cellphone video of the punishment being administered by a hooded man while a voice counts the strokes over a loudspeaker.”

Some background: Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that has been permitted to implement Sharia law; it is the most conservative — read: reactionary fundamentalist — province in the nation. All sexual activity outside of marriage is strictly forbidden and punishable by public whipping. Naturally, gay sex is a lot worse than simple adulterous straight sex — hence the greater number of lashes. And this is not the first public whipping of gay Indonesians; according to McKirdy, “Last May two men were lashed 83 times for the same offense.”

Human Rights Watch is on the case, according to McKirdy: “HRW states that LGBT people in the state ‘live in a spiraling climate of fear… [and] face ever-present harassment, arbitrary arrests and detention by Sharia (Islamic law) and municipal police, and threats of torture.’

“Muhammad Hidayat, the Sharia police chief, said that homosexuality was widely reviled in the deeply religious state, and that his police force would carry out the prosecution of violations of Sharia equally, without favoring officials.”

Well that’s a relief.

In other news, gay rights may be coming to India. According to Adam Withnall of The Independent, “India stands on the brink of the greatest breakthrough for gay rights since the country’s independence, activists say, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on whether homosexuality is illegal. While the LGBT+ rights movement has progressed in leaps and bounds across the Western world in recent decades, India remains one of a large minority of countries — around 40 per cent — that still criminalises [sic — there go those Brits again with their wacky spelling] consensual same-sex relations between adults. A decision to decriminalise gay sex would have wide and far-reaching implications, not just for the status of the LGBT+ minority in India, but also for other countries across the Commonwealth that still enshrine this element of 150-year-old Victorian morality in their laws.”

Not only are the Brits responsible for quaint spelling, but they’re also the reason gay sex in India was turned into a criminal offense to begin with.

“The Supreme Court began its hearing this week to decide whether to uphold a law commonly known as Section 377, a statute imposed on India and many Commonwealth nations by their British colonisers that prohibits ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal,’” The Independent writes. “Police and judges have widely interpreted this as referring to homosexual sex.”

It’s only natural that they would jump to that interpretation. My taste runs toward our bovine friends. There’s nothing wilder than a romp in the hay with a randy cow. Because I’m a gay man, I initially put the moves on a bull. Big mistake. Those horns, you know. Still, I don’t think he was being hostile. Maybe he just wasn’t that into me.

“Hopes are high for a ruling in favour of decriminalisation, after the central government of Narendra Modi declared it would not oppose the matter and leave it ‘to the wisdom’ of the apex court,” The Independent continues. “And during a hearing on Thursday, Justice Indu Malhotra gave an early inkling of the court’s views when she declared that homosexuality ‘is not an aberration, but a variation.’” Malhotra continued, “Because of family pressures and societal pressures, they are forced to marry the opposite sex and it leads to bi-sexuality and other mental trauma.”

Um, maybe you’d better quit while your ahead, sister.

I can’t help myself — I am completely unable to resist a Bill Dohohue story. This one’s pretty choice, especially given that those quoting him admiringly just can’t seem to spell his name right. As Doug Mainwaring, a contributor to, breathlessly reports, “A school board in an elite suburb of Washington, DC, attracted national attention when it was disclosed that it intended to remove ‘Clergy’ from its list of trusted adults. A parental uproar ensued in Virginia’s Fairfax County when Catholic Bishop Michael Burbidge penned a letter to the editor of a local paper, saying, ‘What a great insult to our clergy who give their lives in service to God’s people, to God’s young people (helping) them to do what is good and right.’ The school board relented on that one point, but went ahead and voted to enact other controversial changes to its students’ Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum.

“‘The list of changes reads like a page out of the gay rights agenda, so thoroughly out of touch with reality are they,’ said Catholic League President, Bill Donahue [sic], in an editorial. He called the changes ‘deeply disturbing.’

“‘The Advisory Committee sets anchor with the gay rights agenda by denying human nature,’ continued Donahue [sic]. ‘It says individual identity will be described as “sex assigned at birth, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).’

“‘Currently, students in the Fairfax County school district learn that abstinence is the one and only 100 percent effective method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases,’ said the Catholic League President. ‘The proposed change says abstinence is the “most effective” method. There is no new scientific research that merits the change. Indeed, it is being done for purely ideological reasons: to conform to the gay agenda, the Advisory Committee wants to include drugs alongside abstinence.’”

It’s an outrage! It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham! It’s… it’s… [Snore.]

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