Wed, Jan 15, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Indonesia rights body slams LGBT raids

AFP and the Guardian, JAKARTA

Indonesia’s human rights body yesterday slammed a crackdown on the LGBT community in a city that was once home to a man described as Britain’s “most prolific rapist.”

Depok Mayor Mohammad Idris has ordered raids to uncover members of the LGBT community in the city south of Jakarta, prompting fears of a growing homophobic backlash across the country.

He asked residents to report any signs of LGBT activity, which he characterized as “deviant behavior.”

He also called on several agencies to improve efforts to prevent the “spread of LGBT” to “strengthen families and protect the children,” and instructed police to carry out raids to uncover “LGBT behavior.”

His comments follow the conviction of Reynhard Sinaga, 36, a graduate student from Indonesia, who was found to have abused at least 195 men in England, luring them to his apartment in Manchester, before drugging and attacking them.

Sinaga was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month.

It is not clear what the purpose of the proposed raids would be, since homosexuality, while taboo, is not illegal in Indonesia — except in the conservative, Shariah-ruled province of Aceh.

The Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) hit out at the mayor’s plans as contravening domestic and international rights laws.

“Komnas HAM are also concerned about the obligation of state institutions to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all citizens, including sexual and gender identity minority groups,” it said in a statement.

After Sinaga’s sentencing, Indonesian LGBT activists pointed to a series of homophobic media reports and statements on social media.

The Islamic writer and self-described anti-liberal activist Akmal Sjafril wrote on Twitter: “Rape is not new, and has been done by humans for a long time ... but the rape record is now broken by homosexuals, even though this group is very small in number compared to normal.”

Lini Zurlia, a queer rights activist based in Jakarta, said the LGBT community was devastated.

“Since the case went public, I have personally been harassed online by people saying that Sinaga is ‘part of my circle’ and that I would defend him,” Zurlia said.

“[The media] focus on Sinaga’s sexual orientation rather than the rape case itself. It’s also affecting individuals in our community, because some of them are getting emotionally attacked from their family, as if being gay is to ‘be like Sinaga,’” Zurlia said.

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