Follow Up on LGBTIQ Crackdown in Indonesia

On 21 May 2017 at 8PM, the city police, not Jakarta police, raided the Atlantis Gym. One hundred and forty-one men were rounded up as suspects under Jakarta’s anti-pornography laws. Since the raid, 126 of whom 3 were foreigners have been released. 10 have been charged under the anti-pornography laws of which 2 are female staff at the gym.

Before this raid the Atlantis Gym, a privately owned establishment, had been known to be a safe space for the gay community. The gym space includes a massage parlour area and events have been hosted utilizing the entire space since 2006. There have been demonstrations in the past by extremists groups, but mostly the police haven’t harassed clientele, staff or owners. It is suspected by some who are from the area that the raid by city police happened upon request.

Legal aid lawyers were available to support those that were detained and arrested. They arrived at the police station by noon but neither lawyers nor family were allowed to have contact with the 141 people that were rounded up.

Instead, the detainees were lined up in a long hall in the investigation section of the police station. According to accounts from detainees, the police tactics used were to have them wait in the long hall with no fans, no chairs, lights fully on, denied food, and patrolled by police who verbally threatened them. They were kept overnight as each person waited to be interrogated.

On the second day, detainees were required to give urine samples. This is when they were offered legal aid as well as family members were allowed access to the detainees. Exhausted and humiliated, most of them just wanted to go home. Only 1 of the 141 detainees signed documentation for legal aid assistance. This one person is one of the 10 that have been charged under the anti-pornography laws. A legal advocacy team has been formed to help those arrested.

The 141 detainees have been informed that Arus Pelangi, an Indonesian LGBTIQ group located in Jakarta, is offering post traumatic counseling. In 2013, Arus Pelangi submitted a statement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of Indonesia on the anti-pornography laws and how they discriminate against the LGBTIQ community in Indonesia. Arus Pelangi has information on their website about cases that have used these pornography laws and their effects on the LGBTIQ community.

OutRight, who has partnered with Arus Pelangi, has been following the conservative backlash since 2015 after the United States supreme court ruling in favor of marriage equality. This backlash has exposed the vulnerability of the LGBTIQ community in Indonesia to human rights violations. Indonesia has been creeping towards criminalization. In partnership with Arus Pelangi, OutRight mapped in a recent report Indonesia’s national laws and the departure of regional regulations from national laws in eight provinces and its effects.

In the past two years, criminalization has become a reality for the LGBTIQ community as seen in recent news of the public canings in the Aceh province of Indonesia, this raid in Jakarta and the formation of an anti-LGBTIQ taskforce by West Java police. All this in spite of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo’s October 2016 statement in which he declared that homosexuality should not be criminalized and that police should defend LGBTI people against violence.

When will President Joko Widodo finally speak out and turn his words into action?