JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian police have arrested two men who allegedly operated a Facebook account to facilitate meet-ups for gay people and other sex-related services, a senior officer in the province of West Java said on Sunday.
The men were charged with breaking electronic information law by creating and transmitting pornographic content, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of one billion rupiah (50,501.2 pounds).
Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in the conservative province of Aceh, but the country has seen an increase in raids targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, forcing many members of the community underground.
Hari Brata, the deputy director at the West Java police directorate of special crimes, said the suspects, identified by their initials IS and IH, were arrested on Thursday.
“So far, we’re still developing [the case],” Brata said, declining to comment further.
The men being held have allegedly managed a Facebook account named “Gay Bandung Indonesia” since 2015 and the group has 4,093 members, the police said on an Instagram account.
Gay rights activists say the hostility often shown toward the LGBT community will backfire, by undermining Indonesia’s battle against AIDS. Indonesia recorded 46,357 new HIV infections in 2017, with nearly a quarter of those among men who have sex with other men, according to government and UNAIDS data. Other groups included sex workers and intravenous drug users.
($1 = 15,185.0000 rupiah)
(Reporting by Tabita Diela; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)