Nine men who were charged could face up to 15 years in jail.
Jakarta Police have arrested over 50 men at an apartment in Kuningan, South Jakarta, after raiding an alleged ‘gay party’. The event itself was billed as a “gathering of men to promote independence” and people had to pay a fee of between $10 to $20 to attend.
Police apprehended around 56 people at the party, identifying nine of them as party organisers. These organisers all had different roles ranging from picking up guests to handling security.
The nine organisers have been charged under Indonesia’s anti-pornography law, meaning that they could face up to 15 years in jail. All of the others who were at the party were released without charge.
The police claimed that those arrested had been responsible for six different events around Jakarta, and that they confiscated condoms, scrubbing cream and sexual performance enhancers from the party.
Yusri Yunus, the spokesperson for the Jakarta Metro Police said: “Health protocols remain a priority. We did a rapid test and all of them were tested negative. Among the nine organisers, there’s one who has been infected with HIV but I can’t mention his name here. We will get back to the medical team to check everything”
He continued: “Their average ages are above 20 years old, several of them are above 40 years old. They didn’t look for profit but the pleasure from their community. [What we know about the participants so far] is that all are from Jakarta and some of them are even married [to women].”
In a press release, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Executive Director, Usman Hamid, condemned the arrests, saying: “There is no legal justification for criminalising the behaviour these men are accused of.
“Such a gathering would pose no threat to anyone. The authorities are being discriminatory and violating the human rights to privacy and family life, freedom of expression, and the freedom of assembly and association.
“Raids like these send a terrifying message to LGBTI people. We call on the authorities to release all people arrested in the party and drop all charges against them.
“They must also stop these arbitrary and humiliating raids and stop misusing laws against loitering or public nuisance to harass and arrest people accused of same-sex activity.
“No one should be targeted and arrested because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The police should be keeping everyone safe, not stoking more discrimination.”
Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, except for the Aceh region, however discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is common.
Earlier this year, villas in Bali were raided by police for allegedly “catering” to the LGBTQ+ community. I Made Badra, the head of Badung’s cultural agency, a regency in Bali, said the existence of such villas would “taint” the tourism image that the island has.
Last year, the country was nearly successful in banning homosexuality, as it planned to criminalise sex outside of marriage, and same-sex marriage isn’t legal. However, voting on the bill was postponed following pressure from human rights groups and Australia.
Riska Carolina, the head of the legal division for LGBTQ group Arus Pelangi, said the group would fight to remove parts of the law that have “the potential for gross human rights violation, especially against the LGBT community.”
She added: “Regardless of the morality of the majority, the minority has the right to live as citizens in this country and we just want to live quietly.”