CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Arrest of gay couple violates human dignity

JAKARTA (UCAN): Two young women were arrested on September 28 in Banda Aceh, an area of Indonesia which implemented Sharia Law in 2001, and accused of being in a same-sex relationship.

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

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

He said that he believes that all religions should aim at protecting human dignity.

Father Siswantoko said that whether you accept 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.

While he acknowledged that the province has a special autonomy, he questioned the goal of Shariah-based bylaws. “Do they make people feel comfortable or do they set a limit on them?” he asked.

Sister Maria Resa, from the 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.

The local Shariah police, known as Wilayatul Hisbah, arrested the women, whose identity was not revealed, after they saw them embracing in a public place. The arrest is in accordance with bylaws on the implementation of Shariah law in the fields of faith, worship and Islamic dissemination.

Evendi A. Latief, from the Regulation and Shariah Law Desk, said that the women were detained at the local Shariah police office where photos on their cell phones reinforced police suspicion and the two confessed to being a couple. They were later brought to the local social welfare office for rehabilitation.

Latief said that the province has a new bylaw prohibiting all same-sex relations, for both men and women.

“If we let them free, this will violate other people’s rights. There is a special regulation here. We will arrest those violating Shariah law.

“Other provinces may say such an arrest violates human rights, but here in Aceh it aims to protect human rights,” he concluded.

Shariah Law codifies the religious, social, domestic and private lives of Muslims.


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