HRW: Indonesia’s ‘Unlawful Action’ Contributes to Soaring HIV Rate

A human rights watchdog says Indonesia’s crackdown on its LGBT community is contributing to the country’s soaring HIV rate.

Human Rights Watch says Indonesian authorities have taken “unlawful action,” in collaboration sometimes with militant Islamist groups, against people presumed to be LGBT.

A newly released 70-page report documents how the unlawful activities have impacted the lives of Indonesia’s sexual and gender minorities.

“Widespread stigma and discrimination against populations at risk of HIV, as well as people living with HIV, has discouraged some HIV-vulnerable populations from accessing prevention and treatment services,” according to the report. The result is that HIV rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) “have increased five-fold since 2007 from five percent to 25 percent.”

HRW says Indonesian police have raided “saunas, night clubs, hotel rooms, hair salons and private home on suspicion that LGBT people were inside.” Three hundred people were detained in 2017 because of their presumed sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the report, three raids in 2017 closed down MSM HIV outreach hot spots, where outreach workers would routinely meet and counsel MSM and provide condoms and voluntary HIV tests.

“It is devastating that these clubs have closed. They were the only places where we could find the community,” an HIV outreach worker in Jakarta said.

“We see more and more MSM waiting to get really sick before they seek help or even ask questions about HIV,” another worker said.

Source – VOA