Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body issues fatwa proposing death penalty for people caught having gay sex

The Independent

Indonesia's most prominent  Islamic clerical body has issued a fatwa proposing a host of punishments for "homosexual crimes" - including the death penalty.

While Indonesia does not have a reputation for being particularly welcoming of the LGBT community – and same-sex marriage is not permitted - homosexual relations are not prohibited. Most individuals can go about their lives without prejudice.

But the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) views homosexuality as a sin. It issued the edict at the start of this month, according toThe Jakarta Globe.

The fatwa claimed that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured and proposed a series of brutal penalties, ranging from caning to death.

Hasanuddin AF, the head of the MUI's fatwa commission, said: "Sodomy, homosexuals, gays and lesbians in Islamic law are forbidden and [it] is a vile act that is punishable by the death penalty."

He added: "It doesn’t matter that they love each other.

"The law still prohibits it. In Islamic law, it’s a sexual act that must be heavily punished. It would be bad if the government allows same-sex marriage."

According to Detik News, the fatwa was issued as a means of "reminding the public" that homosexuality is a "deviant" behaviour that  creates a "stain on the dignity of Indonesia".

The propagation of intolerance is seen as particularly dangerous in this instance, given the MUI's influential position.

LGBT activist Hartoyo told The Jakarta Globe: "Issuing such a fatwa is as same as promoting hatred and motivating people to carry out violence against others.

"If the MUI dislikes homosexuals, it should express its disapproval through other means, in educated and peaceful ways. It shouldn’t shroud its message with hate and violence."

It is not the first time homosexuality has been "banned" in Indonesia. In September the province of Aceh passed an anti-homosexuality by-law under Islamic sharia law.

And in 2004 an anti-prostitution by-law was passed in the city of Palembang. It defined homosexual sex as an act of prostitution, along with sodomy and pornographic acts.