BANDA ACEH Indonesia (Reuters) - The Indonesian province of Aceh on Saturday approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes, a lawmaker said.
After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it remained part of the sprawling archipelago.
As part of that deal, Aceh won the right to be the only Indonesian province to use Islamic sharia law as its legal code.
Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex will be punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grammes of gold, the law stated.
“We strived to take into consideration the conditions,” said Mahyar. “This means to not immediately implement it (the law) fundamentally, but slowly until all of us are ready to enforce it.”
“Society today must get a good briefing on the application of this law,” he added. “At least every village must have a special person who promotes this law.”
The law also sets out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.
Indonesia recognizes six religions, but the perception of a rising fundamentalist attitude in Aceh has alerted human rights groups and local businessmen worry it may scare away foreign investment.
“When Muslim or non-Muslim lives in Aceh, they must submit to the rules that have been set by the government of Aceh,” resident Mia Emsa said after the law was passed.
Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.
Over the last decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.
Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia’s national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
Reporting by Reza Munawir and Yayan Zamzami; writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Nick Macfie