Police in Jakarta have detained 141 men after raiding a gay club. The arrests are the latest step in what some have called a campaign against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Indonesia.
Police in Indonesia arrested 141 people on Sunday and accused some of them of involvement in same-gender prostitution, an officer said. Authorities have charged 10 people, including the owner of the club and multiple exotic dancers. A further 131 are being detained for questioning as potential witnesses, police spokesperson Argo Yuwono said in a statement released Monday.
Following an "undercover investigation," officers raided the Atlantis sauna-and-gym complex to put a halt to an event called The Wild One, which on Sunday featured such attractions as a striptease. Pictures circulating online showed topless men sitting crammed in a room next to gym equipment after the police raid.
"The photographs that are now spread out show that the police have no caution in handling this case," said human rights activist Tunggal Pawestri, adding that recent raids violated standard procedures in dealing with cases of moral offenses. "This investigation process has clearly dehumanized the suspects. I strongly condemn the police action; it is not fair and even triggers hatred against LGBT."
Indonesia has no nationwide law against nonnormative sexual expression, but lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTQ+) people say the government has created a hostile environment in order to intimidate activists. Last month, for example, police in Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya, raided hotel rooms and detained eight men for participating in a "gay sex party."
Though officials in Jakarta cannot punish the men arrested merely for having sex, they have apparently discussed charging them under Indonesia's strict anti-pornography laws, which allow them to imprison people for up to 15 years at a time. Even downloading porn in Indonesia can lead to four years' incarceration or a fine of 2 billion rupiahs (134,000 euros, $150,000).
Last week, authorities in Aceh, which in 2014 became Indonesia's only province to criminalize LGBTQ+ identity, sentenced two men to public caning after convicting them of having sex with each other. Police acted after seeing a video provided by people who had broken into the couple's rented accommodation in order to surreptitiously record them having sex. Provincial authorities intend to strike each man 85 times.
mkg/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)