Metro Weekly

Indonesian Soldiers Jailed for Consensual Gay Sex

The two soldiers will serve a 7-month prison term and have been kicked out of the military for their actions.

Indonesian jail – Photo: Thachamon Muensaksorn, via Dreamstime.

Two Indonesian male soldiers have been sentenced to seven months in prison for engaging in consensual sex, which is considered a form of “inappropriate behavior” prohibited by the country’s military.

The soldiers, who joined the army last year and were based on the country’s main island of Java, were expelled from the army, according to a military court ruling handed down last month, reports the South China Morning Post.

“The defendants’ acts of committing deviant sexual behaviour with the same sex was very inappropriate because as soldiers, the defendants should be an example for the people in the defendants’ surrounding environment,” the 60-page ruling said. “The defendants’ actions were very much against the law or any religious provisions.”

The country’s Supreme Court posted the military court’s decision online last week, but its findings only came to life after the local news site Detik first reported on it.

Same-sex intimacy is technically legal for civilians in almost all parts of Indonesia, except for conservative Aceh province, which is run by Sharia law. But the practice is prohibited by the military, whose members are expected to serve as an example of upstanding morality in the majority-Muslim nation.

Additionally, LGBTQ Indonesians often face discrimination if they are open about their sexuality or gender identity, and may be targeted by police or prosecuted for “lewd conduct” under anti-pornography laws. According to Amnesty International, police have arrested people suspected of being lesbians and forced them to undergo an “education program,” transgender women have been sprayed with fire hoses under the guise of maintaining “public order,” and some LGBTQ individuals have even been forced to undergo exorcisms in order to “cure’ them.

Those suspected of same-sex intimacy in Aceh province have been publicly caned, local police have set up special units for the express purpose of investigating people suspected of being LGBTQ or engaging in homosexual acts, and raids are routinely carried out against saunas or other places where LGBTQ individuals are thought to gather. In August, a Peruvian transgender activist who was on his honeymoon died while in police custody after being arrested for marijuana possession. 

Amnesty International told the Morning Post that at least 15 members of Indonesia’s military or police forces had been dismissed and tried in court for engaging in same-sex intimacy.

“This has been the increasing pattern among the Indonesian armed forces and police in recent years, where members were being fired or taken into court just for who they are, who they love, who they like,” Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said, adding that “inflammatory statements” by political leaders often contribute to the persecution or sexual and gender minorities.

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