Over 140 men were arrested at a sauna in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. The North Jakarta District Police have accused the men of engaging in a “gay sex party” at the Atlantis Gym & Sauna. The raid comes as LGBT groups warn of an unprecedented slew of crackdowns against the gay community.
While Indonesia does not criminalize homosexuality, except for the Aceh province, officials have used harsh anti-pornography laws to clamp down on LGBT websites and activities. In this case, authorities claim that scores of men had gathered for a sex party around the theme of “The Wild One,” the iconic ‘60s Marlon Brando film featuring lots of leather.
The men are currently being detained without access to their lawyers.
This latest move comes just one day before two men are scheduled to be publicly flogged for having sex.
Yulita Rustinawati, a member of the LGBT activist group Arus Pelangi, told The Guardian that the raid fell into a pattern of increasingly discriminatory practices.
“It’s been increasing for two years now,” he said. “It’s bad for democracy, for freedom of expression and freedom of association. We’re not sure what the government is trying to achieve. We are queer and we are not going away.”
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, points to a growing fundamentalist interpretation of Islam within the country.
“Regional regulations are departing from national laws,” she said in a statement, “and are heavily influenced by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.”
Although the sexual and gender minority community has always been the target of discrimination, “over the past 18 months crackdowns have increased and the situation has become much worse for LGBTIQ people,” according to Stern.
LGBT people have become the target of state-backed violence and discrimination in other parts of the world as well. Most prominently, international news agencies and human rights groups have accused authorities in Chechnya of rounding-up gay citizens and subjecting them to torture and abuse.