141 men arrested in gay sauna in Indonesia

Saturday, May 21 141 men were arrested by Indonesian authorities claiming they were engaging in a “gay sex party” at Atlantis Gym & Sauna in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Those arrested were detained by the North Jakarta District Police. Indonesia does not have laws criminalizing homosexuality, except in the Aceh province, however the country does have severe anti-pornography laws which have been used to target LGBTIQ Web sites and activities.

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, commented on the arrests and the wider environment facing LGBTIQ people in Indonesia saying: “OutRight’s research, Creeping Criminalization, shows that regional regulations are departing from national laws and are heavily influenced by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. These laws are targeting women’s dress codes, any women having relationships outside of marriage, and LGBTIQ people, criminalizing them on grounds of breaching public morality.

“What is happening in Indonesia is dangerous and scary. Officials are using their own personal biases on morality to oppress different groups and especially LGBTIQ people. In the past, the LGBTIQ community has experienced more tolerance in Indonesian society, but particularly over the past 18 months crackdowns have increased and the situation has become much worse for LGBTIQ people. LGBTIQ Indonesians are equal citizens and must not be singled out and oppressed simply for who they love or who they are.

The Telegraph reported that police have so far said that ten will be charged, including the sauna’s owner and several strippers. If found guilty they face a jail term of up to ten years.

Others arrested must be released by Tuesday morning if there is no evidence of criminality found against them. Otherwise they could be detained for 20 days.

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Indonesia bans gay emojis

The Indonesian government is in the process of banning gay-themed emojis on social media platforms.

Indonesia’s popular messaging app LINE has already eliminated same-sex couple emojis a tthe behest of the government and other social media may soon follow suit.

The Japanese-Korean company who developed the LINE app have even posted an apology to Facebook for the ‘offending emoticons’.

“LINE regrets the incidents of some stickers which are considered sensitive by many people,” the statement read. “We ask for your understanding because at the moment we are working on this issue to remove the stickers.”

Ismail Cawidu, spokesman for the Communication and Information Ministry told AFP that LINE was not the only social media platform to be targeted.

The Indonesian government contacted companies with similar emojis, including Twitter and Facebook, asking them to remove them or face a blanket ban

“Such contents are not allowed in Indonesia based on our cultural law and the religious norms and the operators must respect that,” Cawidu told AFP.