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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

With Calls For Their Execution, Indonesian LGBTQ Community On High Alert

Perhaps not since Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge has an Asian society been this on edge about its future. Granted, the Indonesian government has not declared martial law nor has it begun to ship the Muslim-majority country's LGBTQ community into forced labor camps. But a recent string of announcements from Indonesian officials, both former and current, including a parliamentarian's call to execute all gay people, is causing many to wonder just how far their country will go with its latest anti-gay push.

What started out as a seemingly innocuous joke - the banning of gay emojis on one of the country's top instant messaging services, soon took a very noxious turn. Less than a week later, the Indonesian Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality as a mental condition that "may cause suffering and obstacles in functioning as a human being." The august body declared that transgender people are suffering from a "mental disorder."

Now the BBC is reporting on a more menacing trend with outright calls to kill gay people:

"One of the most extreme views came from Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu who described the movement for gay rights in Indonesia as a form of a modern warfare - an attempt by Western nations to undermine the country's sovereignty. Then former communications minister Tifatul Sembiring made a call on Twitter, where he has more than 1 million followers, for the public to kill any gay people that they find. (According to Buzzfeed, the post was pulled while the former minister and now parliamentarian states he was "bullied" into tweeting that kind of hate rhetoric.)

For the transgender community, many of whom are forced into the sex trade, the increase in violence directed at the LGBTQ community is palpable on the streets and the fear is real. Gay rights activist, Hartoyo, who runs the support group Our Voice, says the community is on high alert. "I am scared that there will be violence against us. There is a history of violence against minorities in Indonesia that were fueled by similar kinds of statements. We need the government to protect us and the president needs to say you can't talk to us like this."

For members of the Indonesian LGBTQ community who are more affluent, and particularly those that live in the capital Jakarta, life is not nearly as dire. As long as they agree to live a closeted life, they are pretty much left alone.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, though the age of consent for gay sex is higher than for straight sex.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population – but outside of the Aceh region, most practice a more moderate form of the faith.

Sources: thegailygrind.com, Pink News, March 1, 2016

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