Indonesian police have arrested two gay men for allegedly running an LGBTI themed Facebook page.
Police raided a house in Batununggal, West Java, on Thursday, which has been rented by a man who allegedly created of ‘Gay Bandung’ Facebook page with his partner.
This is the first case of criminalization of homosexual discussions on social media in Indonesia, The Straits Times reports.
The Facebook page has over 4,000 active followers of various ages.
‘They connect and matchmake people who want to make same-sex friendships,’ said Adjutant Chief Commander Hari Brata, the police special crimes deputy director.
Police also confiscated a number of the men’s personal items.
Numerous instances of anti-LGBTI sentiment
There has been a wave of anti-LGBTI sentiment taking place in West Java over recent weeks.
Two weeks ago, a sperate LGBTI Facebook page caused controversy in the town of Garut, also in West Java. The outcry from locals caused the school administrators to place a ban on LGBTI students in schools.
On Wednesday (17 October), Cianjur regency administration issued instructions to the region’s mosques requesting they preach about the dangers of the LGBTI community and HIV at prayers on Friday.
The Cianjur regency cited a report by the Aids Prevention Commission (KPA) of Cianjur which claimed there has been a significant rise in the number of LGBTI people in the local area.
Clampdowns on LGBTI community
The case in Bandung is the first time Indonesian police have taken action against online LGBTI groups.
It is another instance of the escalation of anti-LGBTI actions by the Indonesian authorities.
Though homosexual sex is not criminalized, there have been clampdowns on Indonesia’s LGBTI community since 2016.
The Islamic nation has seen politicians and government officials ‘whipping up the public into an anti-LGBTI fury‘.
This has increased in the lead up to the country’s presidential elections which are due to take place in April 2019.
Indonesia’s incumbent president, Joko Widodo, recently announced that his running mate would be influential hardline Islamic preacher, Prof. Ma’ruf Amin.
In the past, Ma’ruf has said that ‘LGBTI people should be criminalized because of their ‘deviant behavior,’ and has issued numerous fatwas against LGBTI activities.
A 2017 study by the William Institute at the UCLA School of Law Discrimination indicated that LGBTI discrimination in Indonesia costs the country’s economy over $12 billion per year.
Source: Gay News