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Police in Indonesia ban gay conference

Associated Press / March 25, 2010

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Police ordered the cancellation yesterday of a conference of Asian gay activists, saying it could prompt violent protests by conservative Muslim groups.

The conference, organized by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, was to take place this weekend with participants from 16 countries.

The ban was issued by police in Surabaya, East Java’s capital, where the three-day event was to be held, said a national police spokesman, Brigadier General Sulistyo Ishak.

The decision was made after considering public objections by Muslim groups and the Indonesian Ulema Council, a board of Muslim clerics, he said.

“There are indications that the event could trigger a social crisis and cause public unrest,’’ Ishak said. “This ban was issued for the sake of public order.’’

Poedjiati Tan, head of the organizing committee, said that more than 150 activists representing 100 organizations had planned to attend the conference.

Tan said the committee is trying to appeal the decision with police and religious leaders.