Indonesia launches police force to crack down on LGBT people

Police in Indonesia’s most populous province are to set up a special task force to target the LGBT community.

141 men were arrested in a sauna on Sunday 21 May in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Despite homosexuality not being illegal federally, if private, consenting and non-commercial, the most recent arrests are under Islamic law in the Aceh region of the country.

Indonesian man awaits sentencing

The West Java police chief Anton Charliyan said on Tuesday that the plan had been brought in following the caning of two gay men and arrests of hundreds during a raid on a gay club in Jakarta.

Charliyan said at a press conference in Bandung, the West Javan capital that LGBT people suffer a “disease of the body and soul”.

The province has a population of 47 million people.

The police chief also urged members of the public to report any activities seen involving LGBT+ people.

“I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition, Charliyan said.

“If there’s anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society.”

Charliyan described the special police force as a “taskforce”, saying that it would be targeting “secret parties”.

A national Indonesian police spokesperson said that the taskforce is not a national strategy in the country.

A LGBT rights campaigner also hit out.

“Police have a mandate to follow the law. They are not the morals police,” said Yuli Rustinawati, chairperson of Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBT activist organisation.

Amnesty International earlier this week urged Indonesia to stop the caning and arrests of LGBT people.

Anti-LGBT discrimination is said to be costing Indonesia as much as $12 billion every year, according to a recent study.

The losses are a result of barriers to employment, education, healthcare, as well as “physical, psychological, sexual, economic and cultural violence” suffered by LGBT citizens.

France has been urged by human rights groups to put pressure on Indonesia to do more to protect the rights of LGBT+ people.