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Indonesia: More than 50 detained after police raid on ‘gay party’

Nine 'organisers' arrested under anti-pornography laws now face up to 15 years in prison.

By Will Stroude

Nine men have been arrested and face up to 15 years in prison after more than 50 men were detained following a police raid on a ‘gay party’ in Indonesia.

A police spokesperson confirmed nine event ‘organisers’ had been arrested following a gathering of men at a hotel in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta last Saturday (29 August), the New York Times reports.

Homosexuality is technically legal in Indonesia, with the exception of certain areas which operate under Islamic law, such as Aceh province.

However, authorities have launched a widespread crackdown on the country’s LGBTQ community in recent years, and so-called ‘anti-pornography’ laws are often used to criminalise queer people. 

Jakarta police spokesperson Yusri Yunus confirmed that the nine suspected ‘organisers’ of Saturday’s gathering will be charged under said laws, which carry up to 15 years in prison.

The 47 other men detained by police following the raid have been released.

Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said: “There is no legal justification for criminalising the behaviour these men are accused of. Such a gathering would pose no threat to anyone.

“The authorities are being discriminatory and violating the human rights to privacy and family life, freedom of expression, and the freedom of assembly and association.

“Raids like these send a terrifying message to LGBTI people. We call on the authorities to release all people arrested in the party and drop all charges against them. They must also stop these arbitrary and humiliating raids and stop misusing laws against loitering or public nuisance to harass and arrest people accused of same-sex activity.

“No one should be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The police should be keeping everyone safe, not stoking more discrimination.”

A similar raid on a gay sauna in Jakarta in 2017 saw as many as 58 men detained by police, while in February this year, the public killing of a trans woman who was doused in petrol and burnt alive in the city by a mob sparked international outrage. 

Amid increasing hostility towards LGBTQ people, the Indonesian government has proposed formally criminalising homosexuality across the country, addig a so-called ‘Family Resilience Bill’ to its list of legislative priorites for the 2020-24 parliamentary session.