Tell Indonesia’s President: Halt the Flogging of Same-Sex Couples

Target: Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, president of Indonesia

Goal: Order an end to corporal punishment and public humiliation of same-sex couples.

When current Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo came to office in 2014, he did so riding a wave of popular support for a more progressive Indonesia. Often compared to former U.S. president Barack Obama, Widodo was seen by many Indonesians as a major step forward for the world’s largest Muslim country. He quickly became a symbol of the secular, modern Indonesia that is one of the most vibrant countries in the region.

Now, Widodo has a test. On May 23, a same-sex couple in the conservative province of Aceh were publicly flogged. The two men were lashed 85 times each with a cane. Human rights groups largely agree this practice constitutes torture under international law, not to mention serves as discrimination against Indonesia’s LGBT community.

Widodo himself has spoken out against repression of same-sex couples, and called for greater tolerance of sexual diversity.

“The police must act [to protect LGBT people]. There should be no discrimination against anyone,” he said in late 2016.

Now it’s time for Widodo to put his words into action. Human rights groups have urged the president to condemn Aceh’s archaic treatment of its LGBT community, including the practice of public flogging.

“President Jokowi has spoken out in support of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Indonesia, so the … public flogging of two young men for same-sex relations is a crucial moment to act,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said ahead of the flogging on May 23.

“Jokowi needs to be clear to Aceh’s authorities that flogging is torture for which they will be held to account,” Kine stated.

Same-sex relationships are legal in almost all of Indonesia, which is generally a secular nation. However, Aceh is an exception, and the province continues to practice conservative religious law.

If you believe Widodo must condemn Aceh’s treatment of same-sex couples, please sign our petition.


Dear President Widodo,

The recent flogging of a same-sex couple has once again turned the world’s attention to the plight of the LGBT community in Aceh province. Unlike most of Indonesia, Aceh continues to outlaw same-sex relationships. This ban is harshly enforced, with public beatings continuing to be meted out by provincial authorities against those found to be guilty of the simple act of loving someone of the same sex. Human rights groups have long decried this practice, and argued it constitutes torture under international law. Indeed, not only are these lashings an example of colonial-style corporal punishment, they also represent a form of public humiliation and shaming.

You yourself understand this. As president, in October 2016 you told the BBC the Indonesian LGBT community deserves the full respect and protection of authorities.

“The police must act [to protect LGBT people]. There should be no discrimination against anyone,” you said at the time.

Human rights groups now say its time for you to match your words with clear actions. It’s time for you to condemn Aceh’s treatment of LGBT couples, and seek to end the province’s harsh, cruel and degrading treatment of its own people.

In a modern, secular and progressive Indonesia, there’s no room for discrimination.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: IMO

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