An Indonesian militant Islamist group with a well-earned reputation for harassment and violence against minorities led police to raid a gathering of men for a so-called “sex party.”
The group, the Islamic Defenders Front (or FPI), claimed its investigative unit tipped off police to conduct a “successful raid” Saturday on a home in Jakarta. The FPI’s social media accounts posted photographs of police taking in men for questioning, and local media reported that mobile phones and HIV/AIDS medication were confiscated from the premises.
That the FPI prompted such a raid is no surprise; that the authorities followed the Islamist group’s tip to round-up an innocuous gathering that violated none of Indonesia’s laws is also disappointingly familiar.
Just as an onslaught of anti-LGBT rhetoric from Indonesian officials began in January, the FPI was implicated in a raid on boarding houses looking for alleged lesbians in the city of Bandung. The following week they brought police to a hotel in Jakarta and urged them to shut down a training session about access to justice for LGBT people.
Homosexuality has never been illegal in Indonesia, though petitioners to the Constitutional Court are trying to change that right now. Tolerance for diversity has long been a motto the government promotes – but fails repeatedly to uphold.
But the FPI – along with other militant Islamist groups – also have a long history of attacking minorities with the explicit or implicit blessing of high-ranking officials. Indonesia has seen a steady rise in intolerance toward minorities – especially religious minorities – in recent years, and attacks on LGBT people occur amid political maneuvering between officials and radical religious groups.
Ultra-nationalistic fervor opens space for attacks on minorities as a way of gaining popular attention; weak political leadership in Indonesia has failed repeatedly to put a lid on it.
Close ties between militant Islamist groups and law enforcement continue to create an environment of widespread social sanction and impunity for attacks on minorities. Just this year, Indonesian officials and security forces were complicit in the violent forced eviction of more than 7,000 members of the Gafatar religious community from their homes.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently said he opposes criminal sanctions for LGBT people. Now his administration should demonstrate that commitment by ordering an investigation into why the police took cues for a discriminatory raid from a militant Islamist group.