Indonesian police detained 51 men including several foreigners in a raid on what authorities described as a “gay spa” in Jakarta, and some could face up to six years in prison under pornography and prostitution laws.
The arrests are the latest in a spate of high-profile police actions against gay clubs and parties in Indonesia this year that have called the country’s reputation for tolerance into question.
With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province in northern Sumatra, where Islamic law is enforced and two men were publicly flogged last month for gay sex, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population.
“LGBT is clearly between men and men or same-sex relationships. Male prostitution,” Yuwono said, without clarifying further. He said those charged could face up to six years in prison under Indonesia’s pornography law.
Activists say police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world’s third-largest democracy.
Andreas Harsono, a Jakarta-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, referred to a pattern of discriminatory police action against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia.
“If they raided (this club) because they are gay, it is abusive, it is abuse of power,” he said, adding that there is no
law against homosexuality as long as relationships are consensual.
“If there is no victim, there is no crime,” he said.