Eight men arrested for having a ‘gay party’
Eight men have been arrested for holding a “gay party” in Indonesia.
The two alleged organisers of last night’s event in Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia, could face up to 15 years in prison.
Six other attendees have had charges filed against them under the country’s strict anti-pornography law, according to Agence France-Presse.
Shinto Silitonga, the local police’s head of detectives, said there were 14 men in two hotel rooms watching gay porn and performing “deviant sexual acts”.
“This is the first time we enforce the law and arrest gay people in the city,” he told AFP.
Silitonga, who regularly posts on his Facebook page about arrests he’s made, wrote that police had confiscated motorcycles and cars from the arrested men at what he called a “GAY PARTY”.
He claimed the men had been stroking each other’s chests, adding: “May the law enforcement approach be one instrument to minimise similar actions.”
It is not clear what damage the men were causing – or, indeed, what law they were breaking – by allegedly stroking each other.
Being gay is not illegal in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, except in Aceh, a province which won this concession from the government in 2005 as part of a peace deal.
Just last month, two men were arrested under this law, and face being hit up to 100 times each with a cane.
The 20 and 23-year-old men were informed on by their neighbour, who took video footage of them allegedly having gay sex.
The country is secular, but its anti-pornography law, passed in 2008, is seen as trying to target liberals and the LGBT community.
The law was heavily backed by Islamic parties who helped to draft it, and opposed by minority groups.
Last year, the government announced it would ban access to Tumblr because the site featured LGBT content and porn, before eventually reconsidering.
And anti-LGBT discrimination is generally widespread in Indonesia, to the extent that a study last month found it could be costing the country $12 billion per year.
This is because attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years, despite a growing gay population.
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The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association classifies homosexuality, bisexuality and being transgender as illnesses.
And in January, petitioners argued in the country’s Constitutional Court that sex outside of marriage – such as LGBT sex – could turn Indonesia into an “uncivilised nation” and should be criminalised.
A gay couple from the country’s North Sulawesi province were arrested last year after they posted photos on Facebook showing them kissing in bed.
Also last year, it was announced that the country’s government would clamp down on gay culture – instituting a ban on online “gay propaganda” after a request from the police.
Communications ministry spokesman Noor Iza confirmed that apps including Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy would be blocked, claiming they were “promoting gay lifestyles”.