Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch has called on the Australian government to suspend its aid program to Indonesia, after two Indonesian men were publicly caned in Aceh.
The men, aged 20 and 23, were allegedly having sex in a house in Aceh on March 28 when a group of vigilante enforcers entered the dwelling and filmed them.
The men were sentenced to 85 lashes each, and the sentence was carried out in front of a crowd of hundreds of people in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.
According to Human Rights Watch, they each received 83 lashes, with two subtracted for the two months they had spent in detention.
Australia and Indonesia have a crucial bilateral relationship, with significant cooperation on a number of economic and political fronts, notably trade and tourism.
Australia budgeted $365.7 million in foreign aid to Indonesian in the 2016-17 financial year, and has budgeted $356.9 million in 2017-18.
Hinch said in a statement the government should suspend all foreign aid to show Australia's "disapproval and disgust".
“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," he said.
The Victorian senator said he was "disappointed" by the Australian government's silence about the canings, which he described as "barbaric".
Foreign minister Julie Bishop's office said Bishop 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," Bishop's office told BuzzFeed News.
That's not good enough for Hinch.
“Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly raised concerns with the Indonesian government about these canings," he said. "Well, let’s hit them where it hurts. Suspend aid and the policy might just change."
Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong told BuzzFeed News the caning was "deeply disturbing news".
"Labor is fundamentally opposed to the oppression of anyone on the grounds of their gender, sexual orientation or their religious beliefs," she said.
"We would support a clear and unambiguous statement by the government expressing Australia’s firm position on these matters."
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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