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9 Jul 2018

Report: Abuse of LGBT Community in Indonesia Contributing to Rising HIV Rates

A report by Human Rights Watch shows how conservative crackdowns lead to an increase in HIV infections.

Crackdowns against the LGBT community have discouraged many from seeking preventative measures for safer sex and treatment for HIV, placing an already vulnerable community at greater risk, the Associated Press and the South China Morning Post reported.

The news comes amid the release of Human Rights Watch recent report 'Scared in Public and Now No Privacy': Human Rights and Public Health Impacts of Indonesia's Anti-LGBT Moral Panic.

Raids on LGBT-friendly locations, including saunas, clubs, beauty salons, and even private homes have pushed many gay people into hiding in Indonesia. Last year, police arrested an unprecedented 300 people, typically publically humiliating them for their perceived sexual or gender identity.

One-third of new HIV infections in Indonesia are within the LGBT community, the Human Rights Watch report stated. More than 25 percent of Indonesian men who have sex with men are now affected by HIV, significantly higher than the 5 percent recorded in 2007, according to the United Nations and reported by the Associated Press.

It is common in Indonesia not to be tested for HIV until it becomes symptomatic, and few of those who test positive receive anti-viral drugs that can allow for a longer life expectancy.

"The Indonesian government's failure to address anti-LGBT moral panic is having dire consequences for public health," Kyle Knight, the author of the report and an LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the South China Morning Post. "The Indonesian government should recognise that its role in abuses against LGBT people is seriously compromising the country's response to HIV."


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