Published by the Guardian May 22, 2017
By Kate Lamb
Indonesian police have arrested more than 100 men in a weekend raid on a gay sauna in the capital Jakarta, a day before two men are to be publicly flogged for having same sex relations.
Authorities raided what they said was a sex party promoted as ‘The Wild One,’ held at a sauna and gym venue in Jakarta’s north on Sunday evening.
Police spokesperson Agus Yuwono confirmed that 141 men, including the owner and several performers, had been detained for questioning and could be charged under Indonesia’s pornography law.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but over the past 18 months the LGBT community has been subject to an unprecedented wave of discrimination and attacks, sparked by several controversial comments from conservative government ministers.
Last month police targeted a gathering of gay men in a hotel in Surabaya, following a tip-off from neighbours. Fourteen men were arrested and forced to undergo HIV tests.
Two men were also arrested in Banda Aceh in late March and convicted of sodomy under the province’s sharia law. The men were sentenced to 85 lasheswith the cane, which will be meted out publicly in the provincial capital on Tuesday.
This will be the first time Aceh’s sharia courts have sentenced people to flogging for homosexual acts.
Yulita Rustinawati from the LGBT activist group Arus Pelangi said that while all the details of Sunday’s raid were not year clear, the arrests were likely part of a growing trend of intolerance toward the queer community in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
“It’s been increasing for two years now,” Rustinawati said of the recent crackdowns, “It’s bad for democracy, for freedom of expression and freedom of association. We’re not sure what the government is trying to achieve. We are queer and we are not going away.”