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Police make 47 guests give evidence against ‘gay party organizers’ after raid

Police make 47 guests give evidence against ‘gay party organizers’ after raid

  • Human rights organizations have condemned the raid in Jakarta, Indonesia and the charges that have followed.
Police holding the people they arrested in the raid in Kuningan, Jakarta.

Indonesian police are trying to turn 47 guests at a ‘gay party’ into witnesses against the nine people they claim organized it.

Meanwhile human rights organizations have condemned the police raid at a private party in Jakarta. Officers say gay ‘sex games’ took place at the event.

As GSN reported last week, the raid took place on 29 August at a party in Kuningan, a business district in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. However, Jakarta Police only confirmed the details five days later.

In fact, homosexuality is legal in most parts of Indonesia. The exception is the province of Aceh where cruel Muslim extremists punish same-sex activity with brutal beatings.

Despite this, detectives have charged the people they claim organized the party in Kuningan. They have used Article 296 of the Criminal Code, usually used to charge pimps.

Meanwhile, they’ve also charged the men under Article 33 of the 2008 Pornography law. That carries a maximum sentence of 15 years jail.

Early reports indicated that they released the 47 men who were guests at the party. However, while that is true, the Jakarta Post has now confirmed they are making the 47 into witnesses against the party organizers.

Meanwhile civil rights groups say the police haven’t provided legal assistance to the suspects or witnesses during the investigation. All of them have this right under Article 54 of the Criminal Law Procedures Code.

As a result, many of the men wouldn’t have known their legal rights. Moreover, this would have allowed detectives to bully or cajole witnesses into giving evidence.

Police raid broke law

Men attending the private party had to pay a registration fee of IDR150,000 to IDR 300,000 (around $10 to $20, €9 to €18).

The promotional material showed organizers banned drugs and weapons.

Moreover, the police have confirmed that the organizers did it for ‘pleasure’ rather than to make money.

As a result, civil rights groups say the charges are unsuitable – as the organizers weren’t making a profit.

The Civil Society Coalition for the Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups is made up or multiple groups including the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, LGBT+ group Arus Pelangi and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute.

They also argued that the men were not breaking the law as it was a private party.

By contrast, the police violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified. This stops state authorities from arbitrarily entering citizens’ homes.

In a statement on Saturday, the coalition said: 

‘The state shouldn’t use criminal law to target certain groups. The police shouldn’t justify ways to obtain evidence that violate the suspects’ rights.’

Meanwhile the coalition said the police’s actions had violated the suspects’ opportunity for a fair trial.

‘We urge the Jakarta Police to prioritize the fair trial principles and stop using all means that violate the citizens’ privacy. The National Commission on Human Rights should ensure that the case won’t become a precedent for future persecutions against LGBT groups.’

‘A weapon to target LGBT people’

Likewise, Human Rights Watch also say the charges violate the men’s rights to privacy, association, and equal protection of the law.

Kyle Knight, senior LGBT+ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:

‘This latest raid fits into a disturbing pattern of Indonesian authorities using the pornography law as a weapon to target LGBT people.

‘The government has been inciting hostility toward LGBT people for several years, and there is no accountability for abuses such as police raids on private spaces.’

Indeed, Indonesia’s police have a history of persecuting LGBT+ people. In 2017 they arrested 141 men in a raid on a gay sauna.

Meanwhile attacks on the community have increased in recent years.

In particular, Indonesian politicians proposed a new law in February which would make homosexuality illegal across the Southeast Asian nation. The law would force people into LGBT+ ‘conversion camps’ to undergo ‘exorcisms’.