Two gay men, age 20 and 23 were flogged 85 times in the Indonesian province of Aceh after being caught having sex.
The men stood on stage in white gowns praying while a team of hooded men lashed their backs with a cane. It is the first time gay men have been caned under Sharia law in the province. The punishment was delivered outside a mosque in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.
Meeting one of the young men in jail a day before the caning, the first journalist to speak to him. He was terrified and his whole body was shaking. He was thin, pale and had a red rash on his skin.
Inmates surrounded us with intimidating glares as we tried to talk. I thought we were going to be speaking in a private room, but he was not granted that.
Before neighbourhood vigilantes broke down the door to his rented room, he was in his final years of a medical degree – his plan was to be a doctor. Now we are told the university has kicked him out.
Videos of the raid that caught him and his partner having sex have been widely shared online. In the mobile phone footage they are both naked, pleading for help.
“I just want the caning to be over and to go back to my family, I have been deeply depressed. I am trying to pull myself out of a deep black hole,” he said.
A large crowd of observers cheered as the caning took place. “Let this be a lesson to you,” one of the men watching cried out. “Do it harder,” another man yelled.
It is the first time gay men have been caned under Sharia law in the province.
Although, gay is legal in Indonesia except for the state (Banda Aceh) where Islamic laws are still being practiced.