Two Indonesian soldiers jailed for having gay sex

LGBT Activists wearing rainbow colours and holding a rainbow Pride umbrella attend a rally to mark International Women's Day In Indonesia

Two soldiers in Indonesia have been kicked out of the army and jailed for seven months for having gay sex, which is banned by the nation’s military.

Though same-sex sexual relations are legal in most of Indonesia, barring the ultra-conservative province of Aceh, it remains illegal for those in the armed forces.

According to the South China Morning Post, the two men joined the army in 2021 and were based in Java, but were officially kicked out of the military in a court ruling on 9 November 2022.

The military court ruled: “The defendants’ acts of committing deviant sexual behaviour with the same sex was very inappropriate because as soldiers, the defendants should be an example for the people in the defendants’ surrounding environment,” the 60-page ruling read.

“The defendants’ actions were very much against the law or any religious provisions.”

Even though gay sex has been made legal in most of Indonesia, LGBTQ+ service members are regularly persecuted, as are civilians using anti-pornography or public order laws.

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Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid previously said that he blamed “inflammatory statements” by the country’s political leaders for the widespread anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Indonesia, and added: “This has been the increasing pattern among the Indonesian armed forces and police in recent years, where members were being fired or taken into court just for who they are, who they love, who they like.”

In 2020, nine men were arrested at a Jakarta hotel after police raided a “gay party”. The party’s organisers were charged under anti-pornography laws, the breaking of which is punishable with hefty fines and up to 15 years in jail.

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Trans people in Indonesia are particularly targeted, and in recent years, it has been reported that those arrested under arbitrary laws have been transported to “rehabilitation centres”, from which they are only released after promising to no longer be transgender.

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