Indonesian City Announces Taskforce Targeting LGBTIQ Community

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The Indonesian city of Depok has announced it will set up a taskforce to “limit” the activities of the LGBTIQ community, as the country’s anti-gay crackdown continues.

Depok’s deputy mayor Muhammad Idris said the 200-strong force – including police officers, social service workers and religious leaders – was a bid to curb the spread of homosexuality among young people.

“By forming this special team, we can help limit the presence of the LGBT community in the city,” he told The Jakarta Post.

He said many residents had complained to authorities about the emergence of the LGBTIQ community in their respective areas, the publication reported.

“Religious leaders have agreed that LGBT acts are forbidden, so legally we will overcome this problem so that it will not spread,” he said.

The Jakarta Post reported the taskforce is a response to the arrest last month of two Depok men who allegedly posted on social media “intimate footage of their relationship” that they filmed at a gym.

Homosexuality isn’t illegal in most of Indonesia, but police in the Muslim-majority country have used its strict anti-pornography legislation to target members of the LGBTIQ community in recent times.

Indonesian officials have also recently pressured tech giant Google to pull 73 LGBTI-related smartphone apps from the company’s Google Play store.

In late January, police raided beauty salons in the Aceh province, the only place in Indonesia where homosexuality is illegal, and forced a group of transgender women to behave like “real men”.

Last May, two men in Aceh were publicly caned 83 times after neighbours caught them having sex in their home in the province.

Lawmakers in the country are also currently considering a bill – which reportedly has widespread political support – that would criminalise gay sex.

Earlier this month, United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein criticised proposals currently being debated in Indonesia’s parliament that would amend the country’s laws to criminalise gay sex.

“Discussions of [the amendments] betray strains of intolerance seemingly alien to Indonesian culture that have made inroads here,” he said.

“LGBTI Indonesians already face increasing stigma, threats and intimidation. The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions.”

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