A police chief in Indonesia’s most populous province has made plans to deploy a task force whose sole operative will be to identify and persecute LGBT citizens.
West Java police chief Anton Charliyan announced the plan Tuesday as two gay men in the semi-autonomous province of Aceh were being flogged and just days after police detained 141 men in a raid on a gay sauna in Jakarta.
In response to the Sunday raid, Charliyan told reporters that gay people suffered from a “disease of the body and soul” and called on the public to help punish these citizens.
“I hope there are no followers in West Java, no gay or LGBT lifestyle or tradition, Charliyan said, according to Reuters. “If there’s anyone following it, they will face the law and heavy social sanctions. They will not be accepted in society.”
He added that he would be establishing a special “task force” designed to root out LGBT Indonesians using intelligence specialists.
Activists blasted Charliyan’s speech, with Yuli Rustinawati, chairperson of the LGBT rights group Arus Pelangi, saying: “Police have a mandate to follow the law. They are not the morals police.”
The announcement comes amid a nationwide crackdown on Indonesia’s LGBT community. What began with the erasure of gay dating apps and LGBT characters from television in early 2016 has since spiraled into rampant violence, seemingly supported by the government.
While President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has spoken out against the anti-LGBT discrimination, urging police to “protect [LGBT citizens],” his defense minister suggested the LGBT rights movement was “more dangerous than nuclear warfare.”
This terrifying sentiment echoes one expressed by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov who has repeatedly vowed to eliminate all LGBT citizens in Chechnya by the start of Ramadan on May 26.