Indonesia sentences gay club workers to 2-3 years in prison

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - An Indonesian court has sentenced at least eight men arrested in a raid of a gay club and sauna to between two and three years in prison, an activist and a relative of one of the men said.

They were among more than 140 men detained after the raid in May on what police said was a sex party at the Atlantis spa in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

Most were released because homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but 10 men were charged under anti-pornography laws.

LGBT Indonesians have endured a wave of hostility in the past two years that has been stoked by inflammatory public statements from conservative officials and religious groups.

Police have raided gay clubs and private parties, charging those arrested under Indonesia's broad anti-pornography laws and forcing some men to take HIV tests. Aceh, a semiautonomous province that practices Shariah law, publicly caned two young men in May for gay sex.

Imam Shofwan from Pantau Foundation, which has been monitoring the trial, said the sentencing occurred Thursday. A North Jakarta District Court spokesman did not answer calls Friday.

Those charged included two visitors to the club who police alleged performed oral sex, managers and several employees including strippers, a gym trainer and a security guard.

A sister of one of the men charged said four people involved in managing the club were sentenced to three years in prison. Four employees and the two visitors, which included her brother, received two years.

"This punishment is too heavy," said the sister, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "Because in fact what he did is a private behavior that does not harm others."

Shofwan said two of the defendants did not appear in court and he believed their sentencing was adjourned until next week, but the relative said it was clear from the proceedings, which were attended by her mother, that all 10 were sentenced.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled against petitioners seeking to make gay sex and sex outside marriage illegal in an unexpected victory for the country's besieged LGBT minority.