Indonesia’s crackdown on the local LGBT community continues: on Thursday a court of justice has sentenced 10 men arrested in a raid at a gay club and sauna in the capital Jakarta to between two and three years in prison. The sentence was reported to the press by an activist and a relative of one of the men.
In the raid at the Atlantis Spa, which took part in May, more than 140 men were detained. Most were released because homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but 10 men were charged under anti-pornography laws.
LGBT Indonesians have endured a wave of hostility in the past two years that has been stoked by inflammatory public statements from conservative officials and religious groups.
Police have raided gay clubs and private parties, charging those arrested under Indonesia's broad anti-pornography laws and forcing some men to take HIV tests. Aceh, a semiautonomous province that practices Shariah law, publicly caned two young men in May for gay sex.
Those charged included two visitors to the club who police alleged performed oral sex, managers and several employees including strippers, a gym trainer and a security guard.
However on a more positive note for country's besieged LGBT minority, the Indonesia's Constitutional Court on the same Thursday ruled against petitioners seeking to make gay sex and sex outside marriage illegal.
A good reminder on IDAHOT (International Day Agaist Homophobia and Transphobia)of the challenges that LGBT people still encounter around the world.
A sharia court in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public caning, The court said the men, aged 20 and 23, would each be subjected to 85 lashes for having sexual relations.
One of the convicted cried as his sentence was read out and pleaded for leniency. The chief prosecutor, Gulmaini, who goes by one name, said they would be caned next week, before Ramadan starts on about 25 May.
The men were arrested in late March after neighbourhood vigilantes in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, broke into their rented room to catch them having sex. Mobile phone footage circulated online and formed part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his phone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.
The lead judge, Khairil Jamal, said the men were “legally and convincingly proven to have committed gay sex”.
He said the three-judge panel decided against imposing the maximum sentence of 100 lashes because the men were ‘polite in court, cooperated with authorities and had no previous convictions.’
International human rights groups have described the treatment of the men as abusive and humiliating and called for their immediate release. Human Rights Watch said in April that public caning would constitute torture under international law.
The same punishment of caning is also administered in cases of adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who miss Friday prayers. More than 300 people were caned for such offences last year.
The organisers of Singapore’s equivalent of gay pride, Pink Dot, have reported that this year foreigners will be barred from attending the event, as the city-state tightens rules against the involvement of non-Singaporeans in protests.
The Pink Dot rally, which started in 2009, has in the past attracted crowds of up to 28,000 despite a backlash from conservative groups in a state where protests are strictly controlled.
But now it’s all change: the Singaporean government implemented new rules in November allowing only citizens and permanent residents to attend such events, which take place at the city's only free-speech site, Speakers' Corner. The Pink Dot organisers said on their Facebook page that they will have to carry out checks to ensure that only Singapore citizens and permanent residents join the rally. This year's event, is due to be held on July 1.
"In order to continue using Speakers' Corner, Pink Dot 2017 organisers have no choice but to adhere to this regulation, as organisers and foreigners caught flouting this rule are liable to be prosecuted," they said.
Violators face a fine not exceeding Sg$10,000 ($7,127) or a jail term of up to six months or both on conviction.
In addition to the exclusion of non residents, the new regulations also banned foreign companies from funding events held at the Speakers' Corner, including the Pink Dot rally. A clear rebuke to organisations like Facebook, Google and Goldman Sachs that had funded previous editions of the gay-pride rally as part of their equal-opportunity initiatives.
Indonesian police have arrested eight men for allegedly holding a "gay party" in Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia.
The officers busted 14 men holding the party in two hotel rooms around midnight on Sunday.
Police named eight men as suspects and filed preliminary charges against them under Indonesia´s tough anti-pornography law. Two of the eight could face up to 15 years in jail for initiating and facilitating the event.
Six others were released, however they have had charges filed against them under the country’s strict anti-pornography law, according to AFP.
Shinto Silitonga, the local police’s head of detectives, told the agency that officers found 14 men in two rooms watching gay porn and performing ‘deviant sexual acts’.
‘This is the first time we enforce the law and arrest gay people in the city,’ he added.
In a post on his Facebook page, the detective called the event a ‘gay party’ and said police had confiscated motorcycles and cars from the men arrested. ‘May the law enforcement approach be one instrument to minimise similar actions,’ he wrote.
Except for Aceh province, which upholds sharia law, gay sex is not illegal in Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler - the Netherlands.