news

Police in Indonesia arrest 140 gay men following sauna raid

2017-05-22
Over 140 men have been arrested in Indonesia's capital city Jakarta after police raided a gay sauna. Police raided Atlantis Jakarta sauna on Sunday (May 21) evening, and detained both visitors and staff. A police spokesperson told Reuters that they had "detained 141 people who violated pornography laws". He confirmed that 10 suspects had been charged. Indonesia's anti-pornography laws are incredibly strict. Offenders face up to 15 years in prison for violating the laws. The Advocacy Coalition alleges that the men were removed from the sauna and taken to a police station for questioning. Police officers reportedly forced the men to strip, then took pictures of them which they then distributed online. The Advocacy Coalition said in a statement: "They were still treated unlawfully by the local police by photographing the victims naked and then disseminated those photos to the point of virality, be it by messages, social media or the news media." The group has called on the police to release the men immediately and stop sharing the images. Last week Amnesty International called on authorities in Indonesia to revoke the conviction of a gay couple. The couple will be punished with 85 strokes of a cane in a public ceremony, after they were convicted of homosexuality. The two men, aged 20 and 23, will receive the punishment in public on May 23 – just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The couple were the first to be convicted for homosexuality under the strict sharia code of Aceh, a semi-autonomous region of Indonesia. The prosecution originally called for a lesser punishment of 80 lashes, but this was increased in the judgement. In response to the sentencing, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said: “The Aceh authorities must immediately revoke the conviction and the caning sentences and end the use of this punishment, which constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and may amount to torture. “These men were subjects of an ambush by their neighbours who stormed into their home, filmed them and handed them over to the Shari’a police. Every human being has a right to privacy, a right to enter into consensual relations, and a right to physical protection.” More stories: Student group apologises after playing ‘transphobic’ Lou Reed song The Church of Scotland considering plans to allow same-sex marriages