141 Men Arrested for Allegedly Having ‘Gay Sex Party’ in Indonesia

Indonesian police arrested 141 men for allegedly having a gay sex party at a spa in Jakarta on Sunday, the New York Times reported.
Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press

Indonesian police arrested 141 men for allegedly having a gay sex party at a spa in Jakarta on Sunday, the New York Times reported.

Homosexuality is not illegal in majority-Muslim Indonesia, except in Aceh province, but homosexuals have been the subject of many police raids in the country. Even though it is legal, homosexuality is considered a social and religious taboo in the country.

A spokesman for the Jakarta police told BBC Indonesia that the men were arrested on suspicion of violating Indonesian laws barring pornography.

“There were gay people who were caught stripteasing and masturbating in the scene,” he said.

The anti-pornography laws are broad and ambiguously worded, so a striptease in public could fall under “pornography.”

Because homosexuality is not culturally accepted in Indonesia, gays often gather in private at saunas or secret parties.

“It’s very difficult for us to express our sexuality like heterosexuals,” said Hartoyo, the director of Suara Kita, a gay rights advocacy group. Hartoyo added that police had been releasing photos of the shirtless men to local news outlets, a practice that he said creates an “extremely dangerous” environment for gay men.

Analysts in the country say the crackdown was part of an effort by police to enforce the law before Ramadan, the month-long holiday of fasting for observant Muslims.

“The government is trying to co-opt the religious narrative,” said Tobias Basuki, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

This is not the only instance where the Indonesian government has cracked down on homosexuality this month.

On May 17, two gay men in Indonesia’s Aceh province accused of engaging in sexual activity with each other were sentenced to 85 lashes by public caning under Shariah law.

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