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Indonesian mayor under fire over gay raids plan

Depok mayor's order to crack down on LGBT community in wake of UK court case roundly condemned by rights groups

Indonesian mayor under fire over gay raids plan

Members of Amnesty International Indonesia march to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta to mark International Human Rights in this Dec 10, 2019 file photo. The rights group are demanding that President Joko Widodo uphold human rights in his second term included LBGT rights. (Photo supplied)

Rights groups in Indonesia have condemned plans by a city mayor in West Java to mount raids to unmask members of the local Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) community to prevent it growing further.

The move by Mohammd Idris, the mayor of Depok follows the recent jailing of Indonesian national, Reynhard Sinaga, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a British court early this month for raping at least 136 men.

The case was described as the worst of its kind in British legal history.

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On Jan. 10 Idris reportedly ordered any measure to be taken to stop “immoral acts” by the LGBT’ community from attracting more people in Depok — Sinaga’s home city.  

“Sinaga’s actions have brought shame on our country,” Idris said.

The order was met with an angry response from rights groups, including Amnesty International Indonesia and the National Commission of Human Rights.

Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid called for an immediate halt to the “vicious campaign.” 

“Same-sex relations are protected under international law and these hateful raids cannot be justified,” Hamid said.

Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in Aceh province which bans it under Shariah law. However, there has been a sharp rise in anti-LGBT rhetoric in recent years.

“Criminalizing LBGTs would be discrimination and violates the rights to a private and family life, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly,” Hamid told UCA News on Jan 15. 

“The Indonesian government should repeal all laws that criminalize specific gender identities and expressions.” 

The National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) wrote to the Depok mayor, condemning his actions.

"Everyone has the right to feel safe and protected and to do something that is their basic right," the commission said in a statement. 

It said the mayor’s order to mount raids on the LGBT community violated the 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits someone from taking arbitrary measures or interfering with personal and family matters.

"The government has an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of all citizens including LBGTs," Beka Ulung Hapsara, a Komnas HAM commissioner told UCA News. 

He said the commission was awaiting further clarification and a response from the mayor to the letter it sent him on Jan 14. 

Andreas Harsono, Indonesian researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the Depok mayor risked inciting hatred and acts of persecution against LGBT people.

He pointed to the situation in Aceh province where the implementation of Shariah seen LGBT people lose their jobs, be shunned by society and even jailed or tortured.

“President Joko Widodo must rebuke the major of Depok and … revoke any regulation that goes contrary to the constitution,” he said.


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