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Indonesian police banish suspected lesbians from village

Forced evictions of 12 women at behest of Muslim hardliners violate privacy, non-discrimination rights, rights group says

Indonesian police banish suspected lesbians from village

Indonesian Muslim women walk past a banner saying 'homosexual and lesbian banned from entering our neighborhood' in Bandung, West Java province in this Jan. 27, 2016 file photo. Police raided a village in the same province on Sept. 2 and evicted 12 women suspected of being lesbians from their homes. (Photo by Timur Matahari/AFP)

September 6, 2017

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A leading human rights group has called on the Indonesian government to investigate a police raid on the homes of 12 "suspected lesbians," from which they were subsequently evicted.

The police raided a residential compound in West Java province's Tugu Jaya village on Sept. 2 in response to complaints from local Islamic youth groups and religious leaders that the women’s cohabitation was "against the teachings of Islam," Human Rights Watch said.

Police demanded that the women immediately relocate from the area without providing any legal justification for the order, according to authorities.

"What’s most offensive about this incident is that police and government officials steamrolled privacy rights and rule of law to appease the bigotry of a few neighbors," said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"Evicting these women based on prejudiced assumptions of their sexual identity threatens the privacy of all Indonesians and has no place in a country whose motto is 'unity in diversity.'"

He said the police raid, led by the head of Tugu Jaya village, Sugandi Sigit, and the police commissioner, Saifuddin Ibrahim, resulted in the 12 women immediately vacating their homes and leaving the area.

Mohammad Karim, the head of the neighborhood where the women live in Tugu Jaya, sought to justify the raid by saying that the women were "unsettling the public."

A village official who asked not to be named said: "It’s not acceptable to have female couples living together. Some have short hair, acting as the males. Some have long hair, acting as the females. It’s against Sharia [Islamic law]. It’s obscene."

The women's whereabouts are unknown.

 

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