Gay Men, Adulterers Publicly Flogged in Indonesia
Public flogging in Indonsia's Aceh Province (Photo: Representational image)

Fifteen people, including five women, were punished with public flogging on Friday for violating Sharia law in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province.

Two men accused of being gay were given 87 lashes each with a wooden cane for indulging  in homosexuality, 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.

Prior to the sentences being carried out, the detainees were given health checks and declared strong enough to undergo the punishment.

The province officials pledged to stop public demonstrations of the practice after another case of public flogging drew international outrage last year, however, the floggings remain. Earlier this year the governor of the province, Irwandi Yusuf, decreed that corporal sentences be carried out within the city's prison. However, the head of Banda Aceh's religious police, Muhammad Hidayat, said Friday's sentences were carried out publicly because of a lack of detailed instructions concerning the decree.

While Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, the Aceh province is the only province in the country to implement Sharia law.

The state's Sharia criminal code went into effect in September 2015. It is the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces that can legally implement Sharia, according to rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

The two men whipped for homosexuality Friday aren't the first -- last May two men were lashed 83 times for the same offense.

According to Human Rights Watch, the local Sharia law “empowers members of the public as well as the special Sharia police to publicly identify and detain anyone suspected of violating its rules.”

Human Rights Watch has called for Aceh to abandon Sharia law and for Indonesia’s President Jokowi Widodo to condemn the practice. “The clock is ticking for Jokowi to demonstrate that his support of equal rights for all is not empty rhetoric. He needs to start by protecting these two young men from torture,” said Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director.

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