LGBTI crackdown | 140 men arrested at “gay sauna” party in Indonesia

Indonesia’s LGBTI community is facing unprecedented persecution as more than 100 men are arrested for attending a party at an alleged gay sauna.

According to The Guardian, police raided ‘The Wild One’ event at a sauna and gym in Jakarta on Sunday.

A total of 141 men, including the owner and staff, were detained for taking part in what the authorities called a “gay sex party”.

“There were gay people who were caught strip-teasing and masturbating in the scene,” Jakarta police spokesman Raden Argo Yuwono told BBC Indonesian.

Four of those detained are foreigners: two from Malaysia, one from Singapore and one from the UK. While homosexuality is not illegal in most of Indonesia, those arrested could be charged under the country’s pornography laws.

The news comes just days before the expected public flogging of two gay men who were found guilty of sodomy in the Aceh province; the one region of the country that criminalises homosexuality.

The two men, who were attacked in their home and handed to police by religious vigilantes, were sentenced to 85 lashes by a Sharia court last week.

In April, the Indonesian police not only arrested 14 gay men for allegedly watching pornography in private but also released their HIV test results to the public.

Earlier this month, Andalas University, in the city of Padang, announced that it would not allow LGBTI people to study there, demanding that prospective students sign a statement that they are not LGBTI.

These incidents are part of surge of attacks against the LGBTI community in the world’s most populous Muslim nation over the last two years.

This has included harassment and arrests, abuse and intimidation by religious groups and homophobic condemnations and inflammatory statements by officials.

In October last year, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told the BBC that the police must protect LGBTI people and that “there should be no discrimination against anyone”.

Matters have only escalated since he made the statement and Widodo has remained silent as outrage mounts around the world.

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