14 alleged homosexuals arrested in Indonesia [Antara], 30 in Iran [Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees], 27 in Bangladesh [The Times of India], and now 141 in Indonesia, again. If April seemed unparalleled, with its news about dozens of men kidnapped and tortured by Chechen police [Novaya Gazeta] and the 53 men jailed in Nigeria [Premium Times Nigeria], the impressive mass arrest of gay men in May, leave us speechless (to be honest, very few words were spared since there was a substantial indifference about these news).
The latest Indonesian arrest have been the most brutal. Jakarta police raided a bathhouse, where a gay theme party called “The Wild One” was taking place. All men were arrested: both customers and staff, for a total of 141 people, all Indonesians but two men, one Briton and one Singaporean [Tempo]. The police confiscated condoms and sex toys, and broadcasted on local media pictures of the alleged homosexuals, either completely or partially naked, without blurring their faces.
Raden Argo Yuwono, the police spokesperson, said to BBC: There were gay people who were caught strip-teasing and masturbating”. All detainees were charged under the Bill against Pornography and Pornoaction (“Pornoaksi” is an Indonesian term coined expressly for the Bill). In Indonesia, homosexuality is legal, however this vague and severe law, passed in 2008 thanks to Islam fundamentalist, is used to justify gay and bisexual persecution. In fact, exchange pornographic photographs, and take part or assist to a strip tease are admissible reasons to be charged with pornoaction.
A fast and endless decline
The same reasons were used earlier this month to arrest 14 alleged homosexuals, in the process of starting a party, in Surabaya. In both situations, the parties were taking place in private places, not accessible or visible to anyone other than guests.
The only part of the country where homosexuality is explicitly condemned -meaning without using hypocritical accusations such as pornography- is in the independent province of Aceh, where the regulation has never been applied, until now. Recently, two gay men surprised by the neighbors while having sex, were sentenced to 85 lashes in public caning. The two men were assisted by defense attorneys, and during the trial the prosecution proposed 80 lashes. [Tribun Medan].
The rights of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) is going through a fast and endless decline, especially when considering that along police and judiciary oppression, there are fundamentalist urban vigilantes, like the Front Pembela Islam (The Islamic Defenders Front). The group persecutes homosexuals and transgender, in the total indifference -and sometime with the help- of the authorities.
translation by Barbara Burgio
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