Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says gay rights in Indonesia are an "ongoing and real concern" after the public caning of two young men allegedly caught having sex.

His comments come as Australia raises "serious concerns" with Indonesia about the caning in Aceh province, and a cross-party group of New Zealand MPs seek a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador.

Gay sex is not illegal in most of Indonesia but is in the Aceh province, which exercises Islamic law.

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has been urgend to condemn the caning. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has been urgend to condemn the caning. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.

A group of vigilantes entered private accommodation in March and allegedly found the two men, aged 20 and 23, together. The men have now been caned 83 times each in front of a mosque, as a large crowd cheered and filmed on mobile phones.

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Brownlee said the situation facing gay and lesbian people in Indonesia was an ongoing and real concern, particularly in provinces such as Aceh.

"The New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta is in regular contact with Indonesian human rights advocacy groups, which seek to raise the profile of human rights abuses and to support gay and lesbian communities affected by abuse," Brownlee said.

"This includes a recent visit to Aceh where diplomatic staff spoke to several civil society groups on the ground. The New Zealand Embassy will endeavour to undertake regular visits to Aceh in the future to monitor the situation as well as having discussions with leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex groups based in Jakarta.

"I assure you that the New Zealand Government will continue to advocate universal access to human rights, in New Zealand and overseas, and we will continue to emphasise that message in our interactions with the Indonesian national and provincial governments."

Green MP Jan Logie, a member of the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network, a cross-party group of MPs, said the case in Aceh province was disturbing and a direct condemnation was needed.

The network will seek a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador.

"It feels particularly frightening at the moment on the back of the death camps being set up in Chechnya. And I think there really needs to be a strong response in the international community to protect the lives and rights of our LGBTI people in every country in the world," Logie said.

Muslim women react as a Shariah law official whips a man convicted of gay sex during a public caning in Aceh. Photo / AP
Muslim women react as a Shariah law official whips a man convicted of gay sex during a public caning in Aceh. Photo / AP

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has raised "serious concerns" with Indonesia about the Aceh caning, her office told media yesterday.

Amnesty International has condemned the caning, saying it may amount to torture and was a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment". Aceh has become increasingly conservative and passed strict laws against homosexuality in 2014.

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In April the Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network wrote to then Foreign Minister Murray McCully urging him to condemn violence against gay men in Chechnya, and to ask Russia to investigate the detention and alleged murders of men perceived to be gay.

The group includes National MP Paul Foster-Bell, Act Party leader David Seymour, Labour MP Louisa Wall and Logie.