Vigilante group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) led a raid on an HIV organization in Indonesia on Tuesday (15 January).
Police, military, and local residents joined the raid on Indonesian Social Change Organization (OPSI), according to Coconuts.
OPSI provides HIV support to LGBTI people and sex workers.
Indonesia’s crackdown on its LGBTI population is intensifying in the run-up to elections in April.
Homosexuality and being transgender is legal in most of Indonesia. But, rising Islamic fundamentalism has led to a crackdown on the community.
Since 2016, authorities have been using blasphemy, pornography and public nuisance laws to arrest LGBTI Indonesians
What’s more, local administrations have also been introducing their own legislation to target the population.
Leading LGBTI activist Dede Oetomo told Gay Star News the Pekanbaru raid was a ‘bad obstacle’ for people seeking prevention services.
Prevalence of HIV among men who have sex with men in Indonesia is around 25 percent, he said.
‘It is worrying because people who could be availing of HIV-related services would feel reluctant to come to them’. ‘This would then mean less control of the epidemic’ he also said.
‘Unusual activity’ and condoms
Authorities in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, justified Tuesday’s raid by claiming ‘unusual activity’ had taken place at the house.
A resident told The Republika he had seen men wearing short skirts leaving the building.
Footage of the raid appears to show FPI officers presenting condoms as evidence. They also shared images of a pink room with Hello Kitty curtains.
OPSI is a national network working with the government and other organizations on HIV and STI prevention, according to their website.
OPSI manager Ruli Ramadhani told the Merdeka the office had all the necessary permits from local and government officials.
The manager also reiterated that the organization gives information on HIV and STI prevention and was not pushing for LGBTI rights.
It is unclear what course of action FPI will take following the raid.