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Mayor of Indonesian city warns Muslim hardliners against harassing gays

Mayor of Indonesian city warns Muslim hardliners against harassing gays

Mayor Ridwan Kamil of Bandung, capital of Indonesia’s West Java province, has ordered the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), a hardline Islamic group, to take down ‘provocative’ banners targeting lesbians and gay men, local news reports quoted officials as saying on Friday.

The mayor’s orders came after FPI members raided boarding houses in the country’s third largest city where they believed gay people were staying and put up signs demanding that they leave.

Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil
Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil

‘I have reprimanded the FPI. They admitted what they did,’ the mayor said in a text message forwarded to Reuters by an aide, the Jakarta Post reported. ‘Provocative banners have to be taken down.’

Recently, the Technology, Research and Higher Education Minister’s call for a ban on LGBT organizations on university campuses attracted protests from academics, civil society and student groups.

The FPI has harassed and ‘raided’ human rights training events as well as LGBT film festivals over the years.

While Indonesia has the largest Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 95% of its population of 207 million identifying themselves as Muslim, the Southeast Asian country is a secular nation that recognizes six official religions.

The province of Aceh is the only part of the country that implements sharia, or Islamic law as part of a special agreement aimed at ending a long-running separatist war. Under Aceh’s sharia law, people can be sentenced to 100 lashes for gay sex.