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Indonesia rights group condemns gay raids ordered after U.K. rape case

The raids were announced after an Indonesian student was convicted in Britain of sexually assaulting 48 men.

JAKARTA - Indonesia's human rights commission on Tuesday condemned plans by a mayor to launch raids targeting the LGBTQ community in his city after a local man was convicted in Britain of sexually assaulting 48 men.

Reynhard Sinaga was found guilty of raping or sexually assaulting 48 young men in Manchester.Greater Manchester Police / via AFP - Getty Images

Described by a prosecutor as "the most prolific rapist in British legal history," Indonesian student Reynhard Sinaga last month was convicted of 136 rapes against the men, whom he drugged, and given a life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years.

The mayor of Depok, Mohammad Idris, plans to enlist public order officers to raid residences of members of the LGBTQ community, according to a statement posted last week on the city's official website.

Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in Aceh province where Islamic law bans same-sex relations. But the world's largest Muslim-majority nation has seen a rise in hostility toward gays.

"The raids increase the risk of persecution and other law-defying acts," a commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights, Beka Ulung Hapsara, told Reuters.

The commission has also written to the Depok government.

Idris did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

In the statement, Idris also said the town would establish a rehabilitative center to assist "victims" in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

The Sinaga case has received widespread coverage in Indonesia and left many in the already vulnerable LGBTQ community feeling even more under fire.

Dede Oetomo, an Indonesian LGBTQ activist, said the community was braced for hysteria over the Sinaga case.

A 22-year-old Indonesian student living in Depok, who identifies as bisexual and declined to be identified, slammed the move, saying it "violates private spaces" and was a waste of money.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesians who understand the term LGBTQ feel "threatened" by the community and believe their religion forbids same-sex relations, according to a 2018 survey.

Arus Pelangi, an LGBTQ advocacy group, reported in September more than 1,800 cases of persecution of gay Indonesians between 2006 and 2017.

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