Australian senator Derryn Hinch wants the federal government to suspend foreign aid to Indonesia after two men were publicly caned for having gay sex.
The men, aged 20 and 23, each received 83 canings at a public ceremony in the Indonesian province of Aceh, after neighbours broke down the door of their home, found them in bed together and reported them to police in early April.
Homosexuality is not illegal in most of Indonesia, but in 2014 the Aceh province implemented their own strict Islamic laws following a civil war.
Australia has allocated $722.6 million in development assistance aid to Indonesia since the start of the 2016 financial year, according to government figures, and Senator Hinch has called for aid to be withheld to show “disapproval and disgust” at the “barbaric” punishment.
“When Indonesia whips men in Aceh for being gay and jails a former Governor for blasphemy I can’t support foreign aid to that country,” he tweeted.
He added in a statement to Buzzfeed: “Coupled with the jailing of Jakarta’s Christian governor, known as Ahok, for blasphemy earlier this month, the use of this medieval form of punishment indicates that Indonesia’s values far from align with our own.
“Let’s hit them where it hurts. Suspend aid and the policy might just change.”
Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman also condemned the “cruel and sickening” punishment in parliament on Thursday.
“Our friendship with Indonesia has been strengthened by our perception of a pluralistic, democratic and moderate Islamic nation,” he said.
“Sadly, recent events have given us cause to question that understanding.
“Nothing should absolve the Indonesian government of its obligation to ensure all its citizens are afforded the basic human rights it has agreed to uphold through its international commitments.”
Foreign minister Julie Bishop said in a statement she had raised Australia’s “serious concerns” with the Indonesian government about the canings.
“Earlier this month, the Australian government recommended that Indonesia reject discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, during Indonesia’s UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review,” a spokesperson said.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo denounced LGBTI discrimination in October last year, but local activists are alarmed after police in the Indonesian province of West Java announced on Tuesday they would establish a task force specifically targeting the LGBTI community.
Reuters reported West Java police chief Anton Charliyan announced the plan would focus on disrupting “secret parties” involving LGBTI people.
Police recently raided a gay sauna in Jakarta, detaining 141 men for questioning.