140+ arrested in ‘gay party’ raid, critics say people harassed afterwards
A police raid on a suspected gay party in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Sunday resulted in dozens of men being arrested. A dozen are facing criminal charges for prostitution and pornography, while others were allegedly harassed and humiliated.
The party was targeted after an undercover investigation tipped off police about an upcoming event at the Atlantis Gym and Sauna in the northern part of Jakarta, police spokesperson Argo Yuwono told journalists on Monday.
Called “the Wild One,” it featured strip dancing and other entertainment for gay guests, the head of one of Jakarta’s Police Crime Investigation Units said, as cited by the local Merdeka.
According to Yuwono, police “detained 141 people who violated pornography laws,” with most of them wanted as potential witnesses.
Ten people, including the club’s owner and staff, as well as several exotic dancers, have been charged with crimes related to prostitution and pornography, for which they are facing prison terms or heavy fines.
Gay sex itself is not criminalized in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation, except for in the province of Aceh, which adopted Sharia Law in 2014. However, LGBT activists say the country’s authorities persecute gay people, creating a hostile environment and exposing gays to vigilantism.
The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), an advocacy group, says the people arrested on Sunday were subjected to humiliation and have been put in danger by the police.
“The victims were raided, captured, and taken to the North Jakarta Police precinct after being stripped and put into city buses,”said the group’s public lawyer Pratiwi Febry.
Febry added that the police took pictures of the arrestees, which were later leaked online and went viral.
Ricky Gunawan, another lawyer for LBH Jakarta, said five of those arrested on Sunday were foreign nationals from Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Police did not immediately confirm detaining any foreigners.
A similar raid in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, earlier this month resulted in 14 people being arrested at a suspected gay party in a hotel. Those detained were reportedly forced to take HIV tests, and five tested positive. That information was later made public.
Sunday’s raid came two days before two men, aged 20 and 23, are scheduled to receive 85 cane lashes each as punishment for having sex. The sentence handed down by a Sharia court in Aceh has sparked condemnation from rights groups.