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Police arrest 10 ‘suspected lesbians’ after two women hug in Facebook photo

Police arrest 10 ‘suspected lesbians’ after two women hug in Facebook photo

a police officer is looking at women sitting down who are covering their faces

Indonesia’s ongoing crackdown on the LGBTI community has intensified with the arrest of 10 ‘suspected lesbian’ women.

Police in Padang, West Sumatra arrested the 10 women after someone reported them for being LGBTI. The person saw a photo of of one of the women kissing and hugging another woman in a Facebook photo.

‘The growing issue of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender / Transsexual (LGBT) behavior that has troubled the public,’ police said in a statement.

After the tip-off police sent an officer to on a ‘reconnaissance’ to find the ‘indecent’ perpetrators. They arrested the women on Sunday (4 November).

‘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,’ said Head of Padang’s police, PP Yadrison.

‘On a Facebook account some of the photos uploaded by the account owner shows two women cuddling and kissing like men and women.’

Yadrison sent the women to an ‘education program’ at the Office of Social Affairs so that they can learn to fit into society better.

Following the women’s arrests, police raided local boarding houses to try and find more LGBTI people. While they did not find any suspected LGBTI people, they did find unmarried men and women living together.

Crackdown is getting worse

The women’s arrest comes as Indonesia’s two and half year persecution of the LGBTI community continues.

Homosexuality and being transgender are not illegal in Indonesia, which was once a fairly tolerant state. But the rising influence of conservative Islamic groups has fuelled the social, legal and political persecution.

But over recent weeks the crackdown has intensified. A day after the women’s arrest, police publicly hosed down three suspected trans people.   

On October 19, the West Java Police arrested two men for running a Facebook group called ‘Facebook Gay Bandung Indonesia’. Police later charged them under theElectronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law ‘for distributing electronic information which contain violation decency’.

 ‘This situation is alarming as the hateful abuses by law enforcement bodies against LGBTI people are seen as a normal practice by many people in Indonesia,’ said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid.

On October 31, police in West Pasaman, West Sumatra also arrested two women for being in a lesbian relationship.

Earlier that month, the same police also arrested six people on suspicion of being trans women.

The agency said they made the arrests ‘to ensure that the city is clean from LGBT’. The head of Satpol PP said ‘there was no place for LGBT people in the city’. 

This has to stop

‘This vicious campaign against LGBTI people in Lampung, Padang, West Pasaman and in Indonesia as a whole must immediately stop,’ Hamid said.

‘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.

‘The Satpol PP must be instructed never to perform such acts again. All bylaws including the one in West Sumatra that discriminates against LGBTI people must be repealed.’ 

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