The conservative Islamic province of Aceh in Indonesia will move all its canings behind closed doors.
Canings are a common punishment for crimes ranging from adultery, theft, gambling and homosexuality.
The world’s attention focused on the province last year when thousands of people gathered to watch the two men convicted of homosexuality get caned 82 times.
But Aceh’s authorities announced the corporal punishment will happen away from the public eye in future.
From now on authorities will cane criminals inside a prison and not in a public square as had been the usual practice.
Authorities have also banned any video or photos of the canings. Anyone caught uploading images of the punishment will face punishment themselves.
Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf said media and members of the public – but not children – can watch the canings.
‘The prisoner is punished once, but if it’s recorded on video and that’s uploaded to YouTube, he is punished for life with those images,’ Yusuf told media.
‘Imagine if children witness a punishment and there is applause… Is that what Islamic law means?’
The local government’s new law follows a call last year Indonesian President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo. He asked Aceh’s leaders to move canings out of the public eye because he was worried how the global outcry about the canings might affect the country’s image internationally.
Yusuf agreed that part of the reason to make canings private was to not compromise Indonesia’s place on the international stage.
‘This (law) is to muffle protest… to muffle Islamophobia. We don’t want Islamophobia to interfere with (Indonesia’s) foreign affairs,’ he said.
Four alleged LGBTI people face canings next month
Aceh has been one of the worst places for LGBTI people in Indonesia during its ongoing persecution of the community.
Vigilante groups have targeted the community with multiple trans women detained and gay men continue to have their homes raided.
Currently there are four allegedly LGBTI people are in police custody in Aceh, and potentially face caning if convicted.