Indonesian Police Arrest 141 Men At 'Gay Sex Party'

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Police in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on May 21, 2017, arrested 141 men at a sauna. The raid took place against the backdrop of an ongoing LGBT rights crackdown in the country that has the support of conservative lawmakers.

(WB) Indonesian police on Sunday arrested 141 men during a raid on a sauna in the country’s capital of Jakarta.

Reports indicate authorities claimed the men were taking part in a “gay sex party” at the time of their arrest.

The Jakarta Post on Monday published a statement from Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBT advocacy group, and 14 other organizations that said those who were arrested “were stripped naked and transported in public transportation.” The statement also notes the men were “naked while facing [police] interrogation.”

The Jakarta Post on Monday also reported pictures of the men — who were naked — went viral after they were leaked.

A spokesperson for the Indonesian National Police on Tuesday told reporters the men were arrested and charged under the country’s 2008 anti-pornography law.

“Anyone exhibiting ‘pornography actions’ will be arrested,” said the spokesperson, according to the Jakarta Post. “The fact that those arrested are gay males is a coincidence.”

 

Men convicted of having sex publicly lashed in Aceh province

Consensual same-sex sexual relations are not criminalized in Indonesia.

President Joko Widodo told BBC Indonesia last October that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The arrests at the Jakarta sauna on Sunday nevertheless took place against the backdrop of an ongoing LGBT rights crackdown in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Two men in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, on Tuesday received 82 lashes after a sharia court convicted them of having sex. Reuters reported hundreds of people gathered to witness the canings.

The Indonesian government in 2005 granted Aceh the right to govern itself. The region adopted sharia law in 2015.

A commission in the Indonesian House of Representatives in March 2016 urged the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information to consider a bill that sought to block websites promoting so-called LGBT propaganda. The Constitutional Court of Indonesia last August heard testimony in a lawsuit that seeks to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

Indonesian authorities in February 2016 shut down an Islamic school for transgender people in the city of Yogyakarta.

The board of directors of Nahdlatul Ulama — which is the world’s largest Muslim organization with more than 40 million members — in February 2016 urged the Indonesian government to take “immediate measures to stop all propaganda against LGBT normalization and deviant activities” and “ban parties campaigning for LGBT” rights.

Lembaya Kesehatan Nahdlatul Ulama, which is part of Nahdlatul Ulama, received a $2.6 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development in order to bolster its ability to detect tuberculosis cases and treat them. The grant began in 2012 and will continue through this year.

“What started as hateful rhetoric and criminalizing legal (relations) last year is turning into a witch hunt,” Dédé Oetomo, an LGBT rights advocate from the city of Surabaya, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “LGBT people are a cheap target to boost conservative Islamist credentials.”

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement she released after the Jakarta arrests said “what is happening in Indonesia is dangerous and scary.”

“Officials are using their own personal biases on morality to oppress different groups and especially LGBTIQ people,” she said. “In the past, the LGBTIQ community has experienced more tolerance in Indonesian society, but particularly over the past 18 months crackdowns have increased and the situation has become much worse for LGBTIQ people.”

“LGBTIQ Indonesians are equal citizens and must not be singled out and oppressed simply for who they love or who they are,” added Stern.

 

— Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.


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