Two gay men were publicly caned in Indonesia on Tuesday after they were caught engaging in homosexual acts.
The two men, aged 20 and 23, were flogged 83 times each as they stood on a raised platform set up outside a mosque in the conservative city of Banda Aceh. Hundreds of people served as spectators as masked men caned the two young men, Reuters reported.
Many others watched the scene via livestream video.
The two men were reportedly found out when vigilantes broke into their private accommodation in March and caught them in bed together. The vigilantes were never identified, according to the BBC.
The crowd cheered as the religious police flogged the two men, whose heads were bowed the entire time. Some people brought out their phones and took videos. Others waved banners condemning the LGBT community in the province.
"I hope there won't be any more such cases of homosexuality, it is shocking," 20-year-old student Eni Tri Retnaningsih said, according to Reuters. This is not the first time she watched people being publicly caned, she said. She had witnessed similar incidents before for other offenses like adultery.
While homosexual relationships are not illegal in secular Indonesia, it is a crime in the province of Aceh where the sharia law is upheld. Anti-homosexuality laws have been in place in the province since 2014, and Tuesday's public caning was the first time such laws were applied.
After the two men were caned, they were released and told to go home.
Caning as a form of punishment is not uncommon in Aceh. Human Rights Watch reported that in 2016 alone, 339 people were caned for various offenses.
Rights groups condemned Tuesday's public caning of the two men. Amnesty International called it as an "act of utmost cruelty."
"This sickening spectacle, carried out in front of more than a thousand jeering spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty," Josef Benedict, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.
"These two men had their privacy forcefully invaded when they were ambushed inside their own home, and their 'punishment' today was designed to humiliate as well as physically injure them," he added.
Benedict called on Indonesian authorities to repeal the laws that impose such "cruel, inhuman and degrading" punishment.
"Flogging sentences and the criminalization of same sex relations are both flagrant violations of international human rights law," Benedict said. "The international community must put pressure on Indonesia to create a safer environment for the LGBTI community before the situation deteriorates further. Nobody should be punished for consensual sex."