Fears of LGBT crackdown in Indonesia as 12 women evicted from their home
There are fears of a crackdown against LGBT people in Indonesia after twelve women were evicted from a shared home in West Java.
The women had been renting a house in Tugu Jaya together.
But authorities acted on complaints from neighbours, saying that their living arrangement was “unfeminine” and “against the teaching of Islam.”
Religious leaders and an Islamic youth group had complained to police, resulting in a raid last Saturday.
They were given three days to leave the premises .
The Human Rights Watch reports that no legal justification was given for the raid and the forced eviction.
“What’s most offensive about this incident is that police and government officials steamrollered privacy rights and rule of law to appease the bigotry of a few neighbours,” Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
“Evicting these women based on prejudiced assumptions of their sexual identity,” he continued, “threatens the privacy of all Indonesians and has no place in a country whose motto is ‘unity in diversity.”
An anonymous village official had told Human Rights Watch: “It’s not acceptable to have female couples living together. Some have short hair, acting as the males. Some have long hair, acting as the females. It’s against sharia [Islamic law]. It’s obscene.”
“Personally, I am worried,” said Yulita Rustinawati, from the LGBT advocacy group Arus Pelangi, saying they are worried about a further crackdown on LGBT people.
“It’s like we are criminals. Everything that we do now becomes risky, even living with our partners.”
Indonesia earlier this year moved the flogging of LGBT people away from the public eye, but continues to punish LGBT people.
Several public floggings have taken place this year of people, and two men were given 83 lashes each for being together. The punishment came a day after 141 men were arrested in Jakarta, the capital, for having a “gay sex party”.
Now the Human Rights Watch has said that the floggings continue, but that authorities in the Aceh Province have moved them away from being public.
Media reports suggest that Acehnese leaders are worried that videos of May’s flogging, which were widely circulated online, make the province unappealing for investors.
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Malaysian leaders later joined in calls for the boycott.
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