Indonesian mayor orders anti-LGBT+ police raids amid wall-to-wall coverage of UK serial rapist case
The plans will increase the risk of persecution, human rights official warns
Responding to the convictions against Manchester-based Indonesian student Reynhard Sinaga, the mayor of Depok in West Java said he wants officers to prevent “the spread of LGBT” and “protect the children”.
British police believe Sinaga attacked 195 men and prosecutors described him as “the most prolific rapist in British legal history”.
The student is reported to have family ties to Depok and the case has received widespread coverage across Indonesian media.
Plans to storm the homes of LGBT+ people, announced by Depok mayor Mohammad Idris, have been condemned by the national human rights commission.
Mr Idris, who is reportedly known for his anti-LGBT+ statements, said he had sympathy for Sinaga’s family and wants to set up centres to assist those he called “victims” in his community.
After the plans were published on the city’s official website, they were criticised by the head of the National Commission on Human Rights, Beka Ulung Hapsara.
Mr Hapsara said such raids would “increase the risk of persecution and other law-defying acts”. The commission said it had also written to the Depok government to express its concerns.
Amnesty International condemned what it called “the latest vicious campaign against LGBT+” people in Indonesia, and said there “can be no justification for these hateful raids”.
“The authorities in Indonesia repeatedly launch humiliating crackdowns on suspected same-sex activity, and misuse laws against loitering or public nuisance to harass and arrest [LGBT+] people,” said Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s director.
Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in Aceh province where Islamic law bans same-sex relations.
But the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation has recently seen a rise in hostility towards the LGBT+ community. Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesians who understand the term LGBT+ feel “threatened” by the community, and believe their religion forbids same-sex relations, according to a 2018 survey.
Such sentiment has been fuelled in part by government officials and public figures. A study last year found almost 50 anti-LGBT+ statements were made on record by authority figures in a single month.
Dede Oetomo, an Indonesian LGBT+ activist, said the community was braced for hysteria over the Sinaga case, with media often ignoring requests to avoid making the convicted rapist’s sexuality the focus of their coverage.
A 22-year-old Depok resident who identifies as bisexual said the planned raids would “violate private spaces” and waste public money.