North Jakarta Police reported for multiple ethics breaches during arrest of 141 at ‘gay party’ in May

The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) has reported the North Jakarta Police department to the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) for committing multiple ethical violations during the widely reported arrest of 141 men during a supposed ‘gay party’ in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, in May.

“In this case we found several violations committed by North Jakarta Police officers, which constituted violations of human rights, the law, and police ethics,” said LBH Jakarta public attorney Citra Referendum at the Kompolnas headquarters in Jakarta yesterday, as quoted by Kompas.

Citra listed four violations that the North Jakarta Police allegedly committed. First, she said the department refused to allow the detainees to get legal representation from LBH Jakarta during their investigation into the case. The North Jakarta Police also allegedly denied the detainees their right to see their families while in custody.

The third violation refers to the photos of some of the detainees taken while they were topless, which eventually went viral on social media, an act that LBH Jakarta labelled as inhumane.

“According to facts, they (the detainees) were brought to the North Jakarta Police station and weren’t allowed to wear shirts until the next morning. The photos went viral on social media and (later) in the mass media,” Citra said.

Lastly, the North Jakarta Police allegedly did not provide translation services for foreigners who were arrested.

Kompolnas Commissioner Poengky Indarty confirmed that the police ethics body has received the complaints from LBH Jakarta and said that there will be an investigation into the matter, followed by ethics hearings for any officers involved. She indicated that internal disciplinary actions against the cops are likely, though criminal sanctions are also a possibility in some cases.

On May 21, the North Jakarta Police arrested 141 men for supposedly attending a ‘gay party’ at a men’s only sauna in the district of Kelapa Gading. 126 of them were soon released, 5 tested positive for illegal narcotics, while 10 are still under investigation after they were charged with violation of Indonesia’s ambiguously worded anti-pornography laws.

Homosexual acts are not illegal in Indonesia (except in Aceh), but the anti-pornography law is often used to target people at homosexual gatherings (in case of this ‘gay party’, a strip show being the criminally pornographic aspect of the case).

Earlier in May, police in the city of Surabaya nabbed 14 people for allegedly holding a ‘gay party’ in a hotel. Eight were detained and made to take HIV tests, which showed that five of them tested positive. That information was released to the public through the media, despite mandatory HIV tests being deemed a threat to privacy by the World Health Organization.

Also in May, two Indonesian men in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to enforce Islamic Sharia laws, were sentenced to 85 strokes of the cane after being found in bed together during a raid by vigilantes. The two men would be the first to be flogged in the region for allegedly having same-sex relations. Activists have called on President Joko Widodo to make good on statements in support of basic rights for LGBT Indonesians by preventing the caning from taking place.

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