In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Indonesia: 10 men sentenced to 2 years in prison each for having gay sex; US citizen recaptured after prison break

Jailed for 2 years in Indonesia for having gay sex
10 men have been jailed in Indonesia for having gay sex.

A court in North Jakarta sentenced the men to two years in prison each for participating in a so-called gay sex party. 

The convicted men were among the 141 arrested in the capital of Jakarta in May during a police raid on a sauna and gym.

Court documents stated that the defendants were “proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt of displaying nudity and sexual exploitation collectively in public,” according to AFP.

As well as jail time, the defendants were also handed fines of £55,000.

At the time of the arrest, Jakarta police spokesman Raden Argo Yuwono said: “There were gay people who were caught strip-teasing and masturbating in the scene.”

The ten men were found guilty last week under the country’s 2008 anti-pornography law, and sentenced today.

Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Jakarta, said: “It is an abuse of these gay men’s rights.

“It is not a crime, they did not hurt anyone.”

The men were found guilty on the same day that the country’s Supreme Court blocked a measure to ban gay sex.

Jakarta’s Community Legal Aid Institute, a pro-LGBT group, said this constituted ironic timing.

“While the Constitutional Court said social norms should not be addressed using law enforcement, the North Jakarta court sentenced these people using such a problematic law,” its director Ricky Gunawan pointed out.

Indonesia is officially a secular country where gay sex is legal, apart from in Aceh, where Shariah law is in effect.

But through the 2008 legislation, the government has been repeatedly targeted LGBT people, especially gay men.

58 people were arrested in October under the law during a raid on a sauna.

The police action was the latest in a string of mass arrests in the country, where the LGBT community appears to be coming under increasing pressure and persecution from authorities.

Last month, four men were arrested for “spreading gay pictures,” a crime for which they could face up to 16 years in prison.

Publicly flogged for having gay sex in Indonesia's Aceh province
And in Aceh, the only province in the Muslim-majority country to have Shariah law, the situation is even worse for LGBT people.

In May, two men in the region were given 83 lashes each for having sex with each other.

The men were informed on by their neighbour, who took video footage.

The video showed vigilantes kicking, slapping and insulting the men, according to Agence France-Presse.

Anti-LGBT discrimination is said to be costing Indonesia as much as $12 billion every year, according to a recent study.

The losses are a result of barriers to employment, education, healthcare, as well as “physical, psychological, sexual, economic and cultural violence” suffered by LGBT citizens.

Source: Pink News, Josh Jackman, December 18, 2017

Jakarta court sentences 10 men to 2-year prison sentences over ‘gay sex party’

Some of the 141 men detained during a raid on a building housing a sauna and a gym in North Jakarta in May.
An Indonesian court has sentenced 10 men to two years in prison for taking part in a gay sex party at a sauna, court documents show.

The group were among at least 141 men detained during a raid on a building that houses a sauna and a gym in the capital Jakarta in May.

While most were released, ten were charged and found guilty last Thursday of violating the country’s controversial 2008 anti-pornography law.

“(The defendants) have been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt of displaying nudity and sexual exploitation collectively in public,” said the documents, which have been reviewed by AFP.

The North Jakarta Court also ordered the defendants to pay IDR 1 billion rupiah (US$73,700) in fines.

The sentencing is further evidence of growing hostility towards Indonesia’s small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Homosexuality and gay sex are legal everywhere in Indonesia except in conservative Aceh province, but police have used the country’s tough anti-pornography laws or drugs charges to criminalise LGBT people in the past 18 months.

Rights groups condemned the decision to jail the men.

“It is an abuse of these gay men’s rights. It is not a crime, they did not hurt anyone,” said Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Jakarta.

The men, who were tried in two separate closed court hearings, were sentenced the same day the Indonesian Constitutional Court rejected a bid to outlaw extramarital sex.

The unsuccessful petition would have affected both unmarried heterosexuals and gay people, who cannot marry in Indonesia. Its rejection was seen as a victory by LGBT communities.

Jakarta’s Community Legal Aid Institute, which often provide legal assistance to LGBT-related cases, said the timing was ironic.

“While the Constitutional Court said social norms should not be addressed using law enforcement, the North Jakarta court sentenced these people using such a problematic law,” its director Ricky Gunawan told AFP.

Source: Agence France-Presse, December 18, 2017

Trans women stalked by vigilantes and detained by Sharia police in Indonesia

Medieval: Public caning in Indonesia's Aceh province
A group of trans women attending a birthday province were targeted by vigilantes in Indonesia.

The women were attending the birthday celebrations in the Aceh province of Indonesia on Saturday (16 December).

Described as a group of ‘militant Islamist vigilantes’ by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the group reported the women to police in the region’s capital Banda Aceh.

The women were reported to the Sharia (Islamic) Law Police. Aceh is the only region in Indonesia that is legally allowed to rule with Sharia Law after it negotiated a ‘Special Status’ agreement with the national government in 1999.

Police detained the women for 24 hours but before releasing them, they were told off for having ‘bad morals’.

Being trans or engaging in same-sex relations is not illegal in Indonesia. But under Aceh’s Sharia Law both are illegal.

Sharia Law also allows for the snooping and vigilante behavior exhibited which led to the women being detained.

The women’s detention forms part of a pattern of anti-LGBTI sentiment in Aceh.

In May two men in the early twenties had their apartment raided by vigilantes who also filmed them allegedly in the middle of a homosexual sex act. The two men were later convicted and sentenced to 85 lashes in the capital’s public square.

Sharia police arrested two women in 2015 because they were allegedly lesbians, but they were later released without charge. Earlier that year nine trans women were arrested for cross-dressing in Aceh, which police said violated Sharia Law.

What is Indonesia doing about it?

In 2016, United Nations experts wrote to the Indonesian government expressing concerns about the abusive enforcement of Sharia against LGBT people in Aceh.

While Indonesia has yet to respond to this, in September it informed the UN Human Rights Council that it would ‘take further steps to ensure a safe and enabling environment for all human rights defenders’, including LGBT activists. But it has yet to act on its promise.

HRW said that despite Indonesian leaders’ frequent touting of the country’s diversity and pluralism, many of Indonesia’s minorities remain vulnerable.

‘Last weekend’s detention of friends attending a birthday party is just the latest example of this,’ wrote HRW’s researcher in the LGBT Rights Program, Kyle Knight.

‘The government should condemn this vigilantism, but will Jakarta speak out?’

Source: Gay Star News, December 19, 2017

Indonesia recaptures US citizen after Bali prison break

Bali's Kerobokan prison
Indonesia has recaptured a US citizen accused of drugs offences who escaped the notorious Kerobokan prison in Bali last week.

The man named as Christian Beasley was caught on the neighbouring island of Lombok.

The 32-year old had escaped by climbing over a prison wall with a fellow inmate who was recaptured immediately.

Indonesia has very strict anti-drugs laws and frequently arrests foreigners on drug-related charges.

The maximum sentence for drug trafficking is death.

"He got arrested on Friday in one of the homestays in Senggigi beach, Lombok," the head of Kerobokan prison, Tonny Nainggolan told the BBC on Monday.

"Right now, he (is) still under detention by the police for further investigation."

Before his prison break, he had been awaiting sentencing for allegedly receiving a package containing 5g (0.18oz) of hashish. It was not clear how much jail time he was likely to get.

His name had initially been reported as Chrishan Beasley.

In June, another jailbreak at Kerobokan saw four inmates escaping through a tunnel they had dug under a wall.

The notoriously overcrowded prison is also where some of the so-called Bali Nine are held, a group of Australians convicted of drug-smuggling.

Despite protest from Australian authorities, two of the group were executed in 2015, while the others are being held in prisons across Indonesia.

In Kerobokan, almost 1,600 inmates occupy a prison built to accommodate 300 people. 

In June, an Australian, a Bulgarian, an Indian and a Malaysian tunneled to freedom about 12 meters (13 yards) under Kerobokan prison's walls. 

The two others, Shaun Edward Davidson of Australia and Tee Koko King bin Tee Kim Sai of Malaysia, are still at large.

Source: BBC News, December 18, 2017

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