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Police in Indonesia arrest 58 men after raid on gay sauna

By Will Stroude

Police in Indonesia have arrested 58 men, including several foreigners, after raiding a gay sauna in the capital.

The men were apprehended following a raid on a building in Jakarta on Friday, according to a police spokesperson.

“We secured 51 and seven employees for allegedly providing pornographic services,” Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said in a statement.

Six foreigners were among those detained, including four men from China, one from Thailand and one from The Netherlands.

Police say seven of those arrested will be charged under Indonesia’s strict pornography laws, while the other 51 will be released if they are found not to be criminals or carrying drugs.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia except in conservative Aceh province, but authorities haves used anti-pornography laws or drugs charges to persecute LGBT people in the past.

The maximum penalty for those found guilty of pornography charges is 10 years in prison.

The incident comes amid a nationwide crackdown on LGBT people by state authorities. A similar raid on a gay sauna in May saw 140 people arrested, while case currently before the country’s top court is seeking to outlaw homosexuality.

Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, condemned the arrests.

“This is part of the ongoing anti-LGBT campaign in Indonesia that has been going on since January last year,” he told AFP.

“Human Rights Watch demands police release them and not make up charges against them.”

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