Asia / Oceania

LGBT repression grows in Indonesia, with 141 arrests, public caning

Indonesian police escort several of the 141 people arrested in the May 22 raid. (Photo courtesy of Inquirer News)

Indonesian police escort several of the 141 people arrested in the May 22 raid. (Photo courtesy of Inquirer News)

Indonesia has ramped up its repression of LGBT people, with a public caning yesterday in Aceh province and the arrests of 141 men over the weekend at an alleged “gay sex party” at a sauna in Jakarta, the nation’s capital and largest city. The raid occurred three weeks after a similar raid in Surabaya, the country’s second biggest city, where 14 men were arrested on April 30.

Public caning of a gay couple -- a sharia court's punishment for their homosexual activity -- was carried out May 23 outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

Public caning of a gay couple — a sharia court’s punishment for their homosexual activity — was carried out May 23 outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

The North Jakarta raid came shortly before the public caning in conservative Aceh province of two men on May 23 as hundreds of people watched, many of them capturing the cruelty on video. The pair was seized by vigilantes, tried under sharia law, served two months in prison, then were caned 83 times as a punishment for having homosexual sex in private.

Many of the arrestees in the two raids have been released. In connection with the Surabaya raid, two men could face 15 years in prison if they are convicted of pornography charges for organizing the event in two hotel rooms, described by police as “a gay party.” After the May 21 raid in North Jakarta, charges were filed against 10 people, including the sauna owner, several staff members, a gym trainer, a receptionist and a security guard. Another five remain under investigation and 126 were released.

Amid signs of growing intolerance, police in West Java, Indonesia’s largest province, are preparing to launch a task force to investigate LGBT activity, even though neither that province nor the nation has a law against homosexual activity.

The Daily Mail reported about the May 21 raid:

Indonesian police detain 141 men over ‘gay sex party’

Indonesia map shows Aceh province. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

Indonesia map highlights Aceh, one of two Indonesian provinces where homosexual activity is against the law. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

Indonesian police have detained 141 men including several foreigners in a weekend raid for allegedly holding a gay party at a sauna in northern Jakarta, Indonesian police said.

Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said in a statement that those detained had “violated pornography laws”, and that the sauna was the venue for a sex party promoted as “The Wild One”.

“Our officers did an undercover investigation and raided the place on Sunday,” North Jakarta Chief Police Detective Nasriadi told AFP news agency.

Ten people, including the sauna’s owner, several staff members, a gym trainer, receptionist and a security guard have been charged, while others were being questioned, police said.

If found guilty, they face penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines.

Nasriadi said people attending the event had to pay an entry fee, which included admission to a striptease show on one floor of the building, and that the main “sex party” took place on another floor which was dimly lit. …

Reuters reported:

New police task force to target Indonesian gays

Police in Indonesia’s most populous province plan to deploy a task force to investigate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activity, a move likely to fuel concerns of a widening crackdown on the community in the Muslim-majority country.

West Java police chief Anton Charliyan disclosed the plan on Tuesday [May 23] as two gay men in the province of Aceh were publicly flogged, and days after police raided a gay club in Jakarta and distributed photos of suspects to the media.

With the exception of Aceh [and South Sumatra], homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. Activists say, however, that police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world’s third-largest democracy.

Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance is already under scrutiny after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced this month to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Responding to Sunday’s Jakarta raid, Charliyan told reporters in Bandung, the capital of West Java, a province with a population of about 47 million, that LGBT people suffered a “disease of the body and soul”.

He called on the public to report their activities.

“I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition, Charliyan said. “If there’s anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society.”

‘Morals police’

Indonesian LGBTI rights activist Yuli Rustinawati (Photo courtesy of Google)

Indonesian LGBTI rights activist Yuli Rustinawati (Photo courtesy of Google)

A leading LGBT activist slammed his remarks, which were confirmed in a recording provided to Reuters by journalists present when Charliyan spoke on Tuesday.

“Police have a mandate to follow the law. They are not the morals police,” said Yuli Rustinawati, chairperson of Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBT activist organization.

In remarks on Wednesday, Charliyan said the police “task force” would include intelligence specialists and was particularly concerned with disrupting “secret parties”, the Detik news portal reported.

A national spokesman for the police, Setyo Wasisto, said the approach in West Java did not reflect a national strategy.

“It is enough for us to handle it as we do regularly,” he said.

Charliyan’s comments follow a spate of high-profile police actions against gay clubs and parties just as the country’s Constitutional Court is due to rule on a petition to outlaw homosexuality and adultery.

On Sunday, police detained 141 men and released photos of some of them in varying states of undress to the media, revealing many of their identities. Only 10 of the men have been declared suspects, five remain under investigation and 126 were released.

The police said the photos were released due to “procedural errors”, the Jakarta Post reported.

Rustinawati at Arus Pelangi said, however, the release of the images was part of a police pattern of publicly shaming of gay people.

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2 thoughts on “LGBT repression grows in Indonesia, with 141 arrests, public caning

  1. Pingback: Commentary: Indonesian police fuel anti-LGBT hysteria | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: International coalition targets Indonesia’s anti-LGBT abuses | 76 CRIMES

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