Up to 51 men have been arrested by the police in a raid on a “gay spa” in North Jakarta on Friday. Among those arrested are several foreigners including four Chinese nationals, a Singaporean, a Thai national, a Malaysian and one Dutchman.
According to Jakarta Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono, some of the men may face up to six years imprisonment for violating Indonesia’s anti-pornography and anti-prostitution laws. However, none of the foreigners will be charged.
When asked about what the people in the spa were doing at the time of the raid, Argo told Reuters that it was dark at the time.
“LGBT is clearly between men and men or same-sex relationships. Male prostitution,” Argo
said, without clarifying further.
While being gay is not illegal in Indonesian law, authorities in the country have been aggressively targeting a clamp down on the gay community. In May, police raided a gay sauna in Jakarta, arresting 141 men using loosely defined pornography laws.
Additionally, the province of Aceh implements its own autonomous sharia law and gay behaviour is considered a grave crime. In May, two men were publicly caned after being caught having a consensual sexual relationship.
The targeting of the LGBT community in the world’s third-largest democracy has been heavily criticized by human rights activists.
Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said such raids on what the police described as a “gay spa” was a form of power abuse, as there is no law against homosexuality as long as relationships are consensual.
Featured image by the Associated Press.