Human rights activists are sounding the alarm as four people in the Indonesia have been arrested for being LGBT.
The four were arrested in the Aceh province, a part of Indonesia that has strict laws criminalizing homosexuality. If convicted, they could get sentenced to 100 lashes.
“We are completing their files and will soon hand over to prosecutors,” said Marzuki, head of sharia police investigations.
Human Rights Watch has been following the cases and said that the four were arrested in two separate raids in March.
On March 12, vigilantes raided a hair salon in Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, where a man and a transgender woman were arrested. The vigilantes said they found condoms in the salon and that the trans woman was carrying money, evidence that the salon was being used for prostitution. They called police and the two were arrested.
On March 29, vigilantes broke into a student’s apartment and called the police. Police arrested the student and another boy he was accused of having sex with, and seized their cell phones, condoms, and a mattress as evidence that they had had sex.
Human Rights Watch said that these vigilante groups appear to be residents who aren’t affiliated with any military or para-military organization. They are just people who have decided to help police arrest LGBT people.
“Even if one case of homosexuality [is] found, it’s already a problem,” the then-deputy mayor of Banda Aceh Illiza Sa’aduddin said in 2012. “We are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah.”
In 2013, Illiza was elected mayor and warned citizens that “homosexuals are encroaching on our city.”
And in 2016, she said that she would create a “special team” to “train” LGBT people to be straight.
This past February, police raided a hair salon that was frequented by trans woman, shaved their heads, and forced them to run “until their male voices came out.”
“These vigilante raids and arbitrary detentions underscore the abusive and discriminatory nature of Aceh’s criminal code,” said Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch. “Acehnese authorities should release the four and protect the public from marauding vigilantes who target vulnerable minorities.”