Two men, aged 48 and 30, have been arrested in Indonesia under suspicion of being gay.
The men had their home in Padang, West Sumatra raided in the early hours of Thursday morning after “anxious” neighbours reported them to the police, reports Gay Star News.
Head of Satpol Padang Police Yadrison told local media, “We found them in the room together with evidence of a number of tissues that had been wet with liquid (resembling) semen.”
Police claim that was enough proof of their homosexuality to take them into custody for further investigation. Thus far they have been unable to determine whether they are part of the LGBTI community.
At least one media organisation chose to print the address and initials of the men following their arrest in the notoriously homophobic city, reminiscent of the actions of the Sydney Morning Herald back in the 1978 when they published the names, addresses, and occupations of those arrested during the very first Mardi Gras.
These arrests are part of a wider commitment from the Padang City Council and Satpol PP to “fight against immorality and public disease”.
Padang Mayor Mayheldi Ansharullah led thousands of residents in an anti-LGBTI rally through the city called ‘Long March Action to Reject LGBT in West Sumatra and Declaration of Sin-Free Padang’ on 18 November, per Pink News.
“To the perpetrators of sin, let them repent and those who protect them immediately be aware because they will face opposition from all parties and communities in Padang as well as security forces,” he told the gathered protestors.
Ten women were arrested in early November under suspicion of being lesbians, coming to attention of police after one was reported for posting photos of herself kissing and hugging another woman on Facebook.
According to ABC News people suspected of being transgender have also been apprehended in the crackdown, and subjected to “psychological support and rehabilitation”.
There is a belief that homosexuality and transgenderism are mental health disorders caused by the demonic influence of ‘djinn’ entering your body, which can be expelled through a ruqyah, or exorcism. These exorcisms are televised in Padang.
One Islamic cleric from the Ruqyah Association for Sharia in Indonesia told ABC News he performs these rituals by reading religious verses while hitting his “patients” on the back with a sapu lidi, a broom.
Human Rights Watch warned of further persecution of LGBTI people in Indonesia back in October, following the country’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder and a move to ban gay sex and sex outside of marriage.
Anti-LGBTI sentiments have spread throughout the country in recent years, with men in Aceh receiving public lashings for engaging in gay sex, trans people being rounded up in Jakarta for “rehabilitation”, and 141 men being arrested following a raid on a sauna back in 2017.
That’s in addition to a group of 50-60 men attacking two transgender women with metal rods in West Java (via QNews), three transgender women in Jakarta being hosed down by a firetruck to “cleanse” them (via Human Rights Watch), and the introduction of fines for LGBTI residents in the city of Pariaman for disturbing “the public order” (via SBS News), all since the beginning of November.
Greens Senator Janet Rice and Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman have both previously condemned the spate of attacks against the Indonesian LGBTI community, but the Australian government is yet to make any public statements about the widespread human rights abuse.