Church says arrest of suspected lesbians in Aceh a violation

The recent arrest of two girls for allegedly being lesbians in Banda Aceh, capital of the predominantly Muslim province of Aceh, which has implemented Shariah law since 2001, violated human rights, church officials said.

On Sept. 28, the local Shariah police known as Wilayatul Hisbah arrested the girls identified by age and initials as 18-year-old “AS” and 19-year-old “N” after police saw the girls embracing in a public place.

This arrest was in accordance with bylaws on the implementation of Shariah law in the fields of faith, worship and Islamic dissemination.

“In terms of human rights, the arrest is a violation,” Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, told

“Everyone has the same dignity, whether they are gay or not. They are God’s creation that must be protected,” he said.

All religions, he added, “aim at protecting human dignity.”

Siswantoko said that whether you accepted same-sex relations or not, attempts at intimidation violate the women’s dignity.

“A right perspective on them being people with dignity and respect is needed. Never use intimidation in this kind of formation because it will disgrace human dignity,” he said.

Sister Maria Resa of the Indonesian bishops’ Secretariat of Gender and Women Empowerment said local customs in a conservative, autonomous area like Aceh often become a barrier.

“This is the difficulty. Thus, the local government has the authority to say no to anything violating human rights,” she added.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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