Despite the efforts of many hardline conservatives, being gay in Indonesia is fortunately not a crime. Yet, at least.
Yesterday there were numerous reports of police raiding an apartment in the Kalibata City apartments in Pancoran, South Jakarta, on Saturday night. The apartment was occupied at the time by 13 men who, as Detik put it, were suspected of being gay.
Early reports suggested that police did the raid alongside members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) but police later clarified that FPI only reported the men to the police, supposedly after receiving a message about a ‘gay party’ happening in the room and their members seeing naked men when they checked out the apartment themselves.
“That information was given to the Pancoran Police by FPI, but the suspects were secured by the Pancoran Police,” Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said as quoted by Detik.
According to Argo, the men in the apartment were clothed when police arrived. However, the police still decided to detain the men for questioning. While being interrogated, the men told police they had been playing a game with cards that involved the losers removing an article of clothing (which sounds exactly like strip poker although that word wasn’t used by the police).
In the end, police released the 13 men after questioning.
“Actually they were not arrested, just detained to be interrogated about what activities were going on there. After no evidence of criminal activities was found, we sent them home,” Argo said today as quoted by Tempo.
It is infuriating every time the police act on a report by self-appointed moral police like FPI to violate the privacy of citizens who were not hurting anybody else nor committing any other crime. The hypocrisy of FPI taking such a keen interest in the lives of gay men while at the same time turning a blind eye to the many well-known adult entertainment venues in North Jakarta (which many people allege pay FPI protection money) tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of their beliefs.
At least the police were not pressured into making up phony legal violations under which to arrest the men in question. Being gay is not illegal in Indonesia but a case currently being heard by the constitutional court could make all sex outside of marriage illegal. In that case, the petition to the court is relying on religious sentiment condemening homosexuality to rewrite the law in a way that would lead to massive violations of privacy for everybody living in Indonesia.
Unless you want to constantly worry about FPI and the police sneaking around your homes and trying to peep in on what you are doing in the privacy of your own home, now is the time to speak out.