Police in Padang, Indonesia have arrested ten women on suspicion of being members of the LGBT+ community after two of them were seen kissing and hugging in a photo shared on Facebook. Following the report, a group of police officers were sent to find the women in question, and they arrested an additional eight people as they raided boarding houses in the area.
A spokesperson for the Indonesian police said:
“The growing issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender behaviour has troubled the police. Almost every day we get reports from the public regarding this LGBT issue, therefore to follow up on this report we do development and reconnaissance.
“On a Facebook account, some of the photos uploaded by the account show two women cuddling and kissing like men and women.”
The women were sent to an ‘education programme’ following the arrest.
The arrest of these women emerges as part of Indonesian’s crackdown on LGBT+ people, which gained serious momentum in 2016. While homosexuality is not criminalised throughout a large part of Indonesia, LGBT+ people continue to face oppression as the influence of conservative Islamic groups rise. Certain parts of Indonesia are governed by Sharia law, and under this, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by flogging.
Two men were arrested in West Java for running a group on Facebook called ‘Facebook Gay Bandung Indonesia’. They were later charged with a ‘decency violation’.
Moreover, trans people in parts of Indonesia face serious persecution. Last month police arrested six people they believed to be trans in West Sumatra, while just this week police hosed down three trans people in public.
Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty International spoke about the rising level of persecution faced by LGBT+ people in Indonesia:
“This situation is alarming as the hateful abuses by law enforcement bodies against LGBTI people are seen as normal practice by many in Indonesia.
“The vicious campaign against LGBTI people in Lampung, Padang, West Pasaman and in Indonesia as a whole must immediately stop.”
“The police must protect the citizens of this country. They must also investigate the Satpol PP officers and bring perpetrators to justice, otherwise they enable an increasingly worrying climate of impunity.”
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