A mayor in Indonesia is facing international condemnation for ordering raids on the LGBTQ community.
Mohammad Idris -- the mayor of Depok, south of Jakarta -- has directed police to rout out "LGBT behavior" and agencies to stop the "spread of LGBT," reports The Guardian. Idris justified the raids by saying they would "strengthen families and ... protect the children."
Additionally, Idris vowed to launch a center in Depok to rehabilitate "victims" in the LGBTQ community.
The troubling actions are in response to the conviction of Reynhard Sinaga, a 36-year-old graduate student in England who was found guilty of sexually abusing dozens of men. Sinaga, who is originally from Depok, was sentenced to life imprisonment for drugging and raping his victims at his Manchester apartment.
In response to the ordered raids, 16 human rights groups issued a statement that blasted Sinaga while clarifying that a person's sexual orientation is not linked with a sexually abusive nature.
"Sexual violence can be committed by and to anyone regardless of class, level of education, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation," the statement said. "Blaming sexual orientation for one's criminal actions is an attempt to turn the issue of sexual violence into hate against vulnerable LGBT groups."
However, news of Sinaga's crimes has sparked a wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in Indonesia, according to Lini Zurlia, an LGBTQ activist in Jakarta.
"Since the case went public, I have personally been harassed online by people saying that Sinaga is 'part of my circle' and that I would defend him and I am sure other [queer] activists are also experiencing the same," Zurlia told The Guardian.
"[The media] focus on Sinaga's sexual orientation rather than the rape case itself. It's also affecting individuals in our community because some of them are getting emotionally attacked from their family, as if being gay is to 'be like Sinaga.'"
Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, does not criminalize homosexuality nationwide, but its autonomous province of Aceh does. It was once among the most LGBTQ-accepting countries in the Islamic world, but that has changed in recent years. The new vice president, Ma'ruf Amin, supports the criminalization of LGBTQ people. Last fall, Parliament narrowly voted down a bill that would ban all sex outside of marriage -- and Indonesia does not allow same-sex marriage.
In December, The New York Times reported that some Indonesian schools were screening foreign teachers to see if they're LGBTQ, with queries including their preferred gender composition of an orgy.