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BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — Lawmakers in a conservative Muslim Indonesian province passed a law Saturday that punishes gay sex by public caning and subjects non-Muslims to the region's strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Human rights groups have said the law violates international treaties signed by Indonesia protecting the rights of minorities and women. Gay rights activist King Oey urged the central government's new moderate leadership to use its influence to overturn the law, or appeal it at the Constitutional Court.
"It's discriminatory and saddening," he said. "We urge people who are concerned with human rights will not sit by silently."
The measure was passed by the 69-member assembly unanimously early Saturday after hours of debate, just days before a new 81-member regional parliament takes over in Aceh province next week, said lawmaker Mahyaruddin Yusuf from the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party.
The law says anal sex between men is punishable by up to 100 lashes of the cane. Women found guilty of "rubbing" their body parts against each other for sexual pleasure are also liable for caning.
Some articles deemed too harsh had been revised. An earlier version of the law that called for people to be stoned to death for adultery has been dropped because of complaints from the central government, said lawmaker Moharriadi Syafari.
The law doesn't mention other sex acts, raising questions over whether the region's clerics considered them acceptable or even how much thought had gone into the drafting of the law.
The law also applies to non-Muslims in the overwhelmingly Muslim province. Only 1 percent of Aceh residents are non-Muslims.
Indonesia's criminal code doesn't regulate homosexuality. The central government doesn't have the power to strike down a provincial law, but it can ask Aceh to reconsider legislation.
On Friday, Indonesia was the only Southeast Asian nation that's a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council voting against a resolution to combat violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution was passed.
Aceh is considered more devout than elsewhere in Muslim-majority Indonesia, but the level of support for the implementation of the laws is unclear.
Indonesia's secular central government granted Aceh the right to implement a version of Islamic Shariah law in 2006 as part of a peace deal to end a separatist war. A religious police and court system have been established and the new law is a significant strengthening of sharia in the region.
People convicted of adultery, gambling and consuming alcohol already face caning, as do women wearing tight clothes and people who skip Friday Muslim prayers.
Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.
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