How homophobic is Indonesia

Mass arrests of alleged gay men in Indonesia

In the Indonesian media, the arrested were presented like felons

On Wednesday Jakarta police arrested 56 alleged gay men at a "gay party" in a hotel. Forty-seven of them were later released after being shown in the media with plastic handcuffs chained together. Nine men were charged with violating the "anti-pornography law". This can be punished with up to 15 years imprisonment. The law passed in 2008 is a rubber paragraph with which sexual minorities in particular can be prosecuted.

At a press conference, the police presented incriminating evidence that had been seized from the party - including condoms and massage oil. According to a police spokesman, "games with a sexual theme" were carried out at the meeting. According to local reports, drugs were not allowed at the party. Forced HIV tests were carried out on the nine arrested - one of the men tested positive, according to media reports. According to the media, several of the men are married to women.

State power is increasingly inciting against homosexuals

In Indonesia - the most populous Muslim-majority country - homosexuality is actually legal, with the exception of the strictly religious province of Aceh. However, the climate for sexual and gender minorities has deteriorated dramatically in recent years. Responsible for the increasingly serious situation is in particular the sharp rhetoric of many politicians who use homophobia to seek support. They are successful because the Indonesian population is extremely homophobic - according to surveys, four out of five citizens say that they do not want to accept gays and lesbians as neighbors.

The homophobic atmosphere has an impact on the lives of many LGBTI people - and has led to an explosion in new HIV infections, as many gays can no longer be reached by preventive measures for fear of government violence ( reported). Last year, the relatively liberal President Joko Widodo stopped an attempt by parliament to formally prohibit homosexuality ( reported).

While in Aceh men have recently been publicly whipped for alleged homosexuality under Sharia law or trans people have been publicly humiliated, there has also been increasing repression in other regions, such as raids in gay saunas with subsequent imprisonment ( reported). (dk)