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Indonesia: 51 men arrested in alleged gay sex party in spa

Asian Correspondent - October 9, 2017

Activists say police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world's third-largest democracy.

Police in Indonesia said 51 men were arrested on Friday night for their alleged involvement with a gay sex party in Central Jakarta.

The Jakarta Post quoted Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono as saying that some of the arrested men, included foreigners from China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

"For the spa visitors, we will conduct an identification process. They will be taken in as witnesses, and after that, we will release them," Argo said on Saturday.

Police also seized 13 sex toys and condoms during the raid. "By paying IDR165,000 (US$12.23), people get access to the spa's facilities and also are given condoms and lubricants," Argo said.

Argo said seven suspects have been identified in the case, of which six have been arrested while one remained at large.

The suspects, he said, would be charged under the 2008 Pornography Law and the Criminal Code (KUHP) which carries a maximum sentence of six years' imprisonment.

The arrests are the latest in a spate of high-profile police actions against gay clubs and parties in Indonesia this year that have called the country's reputation for tolerance into question.

With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province in northern Sumatra, where Islamic law is enforced and two men were publicly flogged in May for gay sex, homosexuality is not criminalised in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population.

# LGBTIQ... This is a human's rights issue not #SSM #voteNO https://t.co/RJDTEcDFl8 Riette de Klerk (@RiettedeKlerk) October 8, 2017

When asked about what the people in the spa were doing at the time of the raid, Argo noted that it was dark at the time.

"LGBT is clearly between men and men or same-sex relationships. Male prostitution," Yuwono said, without clarifying further. "There's a cashier, the manager there and also those providing facilities like towels and other things," he said.

Activists say police targeting of consensual gay sex has shone a light on discrimination and harassment in the world's third-largest democracy.

Jakarta-based researcher for Human Rights Watch Andreas Harsono referred to a pattern of discriminatory police action against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia.

"If they raided (this club) because they are gay, it is abusive, it is abuse of power," he said, adding that there is no law against homosexuality as long as relationships are consensual. He said: "If there is no victim, there is no crime."

Police often used to the pornography law to "criminalise" such cases, but that law itself is also problematic, Andreas said, noting that people could be charged if they had pornographic material on a cell phone.

"Just imagine if every person in Indonesia had their cell phones checked, how many hundred million people would go to jail?"

In May, officers detained 141 men in a raid on the Atlantis sauna, accusing them of involvement in a gay prostitution ring in a part of Jakarta that is also home to many heterosexual "spas".

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/10/alleged-gay-sex-party-indonesia-leads-scores-arrests/.

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