HUMAN Rights Watch has issued a letter to the chief of Indonesia’s national police General Tito Karnavian urging him to end the targeting of sexual minorities, which it says is creating “anti-gay hysteria.”
A number of high-profile raids have occurred in recent months, including a “gay party” in Surabaya and a men-only spa in Jakarta leading to the arrest of 141 people. HRW called upon Tito to immediately investigate the raids, which were conducted but local police departments.
“Indonesia’s police raids against LGBT people are part of a disturbing pattern of rights abuses that strike fear into already-marginalised communities,” said HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams.
Men arrested in Surabaya on April 30 were allegedly forced to take HIV tests without their consent. Those arrested during the Atlantis Spa raid in Jakarta were paraded half-naked in front of the media, and HRW alleges police interrogated them whilst unclothed.
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“The police’s use of a discriminatory so-called anti-pornography law as a pretext to raid private gatherings exposes the crude bigotry of their actions,” said Adams.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia, however LGBT communities have been increasingly targeted by public officials since early 2016. People arrested during raids have been charged under Indonesia’s controversial anti-pornography law.
“The national police need to stop these raids to restore public confidence that the police will do their duty to protect all Indonesians.”
Last October, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared that “there should be no discrimination against anyone,” urging the police to act against anti-LGBT groups or individuals seeking to violate their rights.
Adams added that “President Jokowi put the police on notice about protecting LGBT people. Now he needs to make sure they act on it.”