ON Sunday night, 141 men were arrested by Indonesian authorities at the Atlantis Gym & Sauna in the capital, Jakarta. Police claim the men were engaged in a “gay sex party”.

Indonesian law does not criminalise homosexuality, except in the province of Aceh, but the country’s severe anti-pornography laws have been used to target LGBTI websites and activities.

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, condemned the arrests and the wider environment facing LGBTI people in Indonesia.

“OutRight’s research… shows that regional regulations are departing from national laws and are heavily influenced by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam,” said Stern.

“These laws are targeting women’s dress codes, any women having relationships outside of marriage, and LGBTIQ people, criminalising them on grounds of breaching public morality.

“What is happening in Indonesia is dangerous and scary. Officials are using their own personal biases on morality to oppress different groups and especially LGBTIQ people.

“In the past, the LGBTIQ community has experienced more tolerance in Indonesian society, but particularly over the last 18 months crackdowns have increased and the situation has become much worse.

“LGBTIQ Indonesians are equal citizens and must not be singled out and oppressed simply for who they love or who they are.”

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