A rights group is calling on the Indonesian government to immediately investigate a raid by police and village leaders that forced 12 “suspected lesbians” out of their community.
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that the Sept. 2 raid and eviction in West Java province’s Tugu Jaya village violated rights to privacy, non-discrimination and basic due process.
“Evicting these women based on prejudiced assumptions of their sexual identity threatens the privacy of all Indonesians and has no place in a country whose motto is ‘unity in diversity,’” Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Muslim-majority Indonesia, but anti-gay discrimination has increased since early 2016 when officials began calling for society to reject LGBTQ individuals.
The country faced international condemnation in May when two men were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and reported them to Shariah police.
Human Rights Watch says the raid of the women’s homes in Tugu Jaya came after local Islamic youth groups and religious leaders complained that their cohabitation was against the teachings of Islam.
“What’s most offensive about this incident is that police and government officials steamrolled privacy rights and rule of law to appease the bigotry of a few neighbors,” Harsono said.
According to a statement released by Human Rights Watch, an Indonesian village official who asked not to be named, told the organization, “It’s not acceptable to have female couples living together. Some have short hair, acting as the males. Some have long hair, acting as the females. It’s against Sharia [Islamic law]. It’s obscene.”