Indonesia rights body, activists condemn LGBT+ raids order by city mayor


The plans of an Indonesian mayor to conduct raids targeting the LBGT+ community in his city, after a local man has been convicted in Britain of sexually assaulting 48 men, has been condemned by the nation’s human rights commission on Tuesday, January 14.

The Indonesian student, Reynhard Sinaga, who was described by a prosecutor as “the most prolific rapist in British legal history’’, was convicted last month of 136 cases of rape against men whom he invites to his apartment and drugged, was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years.

The mayor of Depok, Mohammad Idris, plans to enlist public order officers to raid residences of members of the LGBT+ community, according to a statement posted last week on the city’s official website.

“The raids increase the risk of persecution and other law-defying acts,” a commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights, Beka Ulung Hapsara, told Reuters.

The commission has also written to the Depok government. Idris did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in Aceh province where Islamic law bans same-sex relations. But the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation has seen a rise in hostility toward the LGBT+ community.

In the statement, Idris also said the town would establish a rehabilitation centre to assist “victims” in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

The Sinaga case has received widespread coverage in Indonesia and left many in the already vulnerable LGBT+ community feeling even more under fire.

Dede Oetomo, an Indonesian LGBT+ activist, said the community was braced for hysteria over the Sinaga case.

A 22-year-old Indonesian student living in Depok who identifies as bisexual and declined to be identified slammed the move, saying it “violates private spaces” and was a waste of money.

Nearly 90% of Indonesians who understand the term LGBT+ feel “threatened” by their community and believe their religion forbids same-sex relations, according to a 2018 survey.

Arus Pelangi, an LGBT+ advocacy group, reported in September of more than 1,800 cases of persecution of gay Indonesians between 2006 and 2017. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)