Indonesian police steamrolled privacy rights to appease bigotry in forced eviction of ‘suspected lesbians’: Human Rights Watch

One of the women being forced from her home in Bogor’s Tugujaya Village on Saturday while a crowd of her former neighbors watch. Image: Tribun Medan / Youtube (edited to protect identities)

On Saturday, police in Bogor’s Tugujaya Village raided the rented home of 12 women after several people in their neighborhood had reported their suspicions that the women were lesbians. Although homosexuality is not a crime throughout Indonesia (with the exception of Aceh) and the women were not charged with violating any other laws, local authorities gave the women three days to vacate the village voluntarily (but they were all gone by the end of the day Saturday).

In a statement released yesterday by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the international research and advocacy NGO sharply criticized the forced evictions in Tugujaya Village, saying they “violate the rights to privacy, non-discrimination and basic due process.”

HRW interviewed authorities involved in the evictions and said they did so “without providing any legal justification for the order”. Despite that, they were still brazen enough to share a video of their raid and eviction with the local media that makes no attempt to hide the identities of the women.

Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at HRW, said, “What’s most offensive about this incident is that police and government officials steamrolled privacy rights and rule of law to appease the bigotry of a few neighbors.”

“Evicting these women based on prejudiced assumptions of their sexual identity threatens the privacy of all Indonesians and has no place in a country whose motto is ‘unity in diversity.”

The HRW statement argued that the forced evictions “fits into a disturbing pattern of discrimination and unlawful use of force by police against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia” including four raids on LGBT people in private settings in 2017 alone.

“Police raids on private gatherings of LGBT people foster dangerous anti-gay hysteria at a time when the government should instead be stepping up to protect this marginalized minority,” Harsono said. “It has been nearly a year since President Jokowi pledged his support to the LGBT community, but his failure to take action has allowed raids like this to continue unabated.”

Read Human Rights Watch’s full statement
Indonesia: Stop Raids on Homes of ‘Suspected Lesbians’

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