ADVOCACY & PROGRESS
FOR AN INDONESIAN DIVERSITY THAT EMBRACES LGBTQ+
PERSECUTED BY MAINSTREAM SOCIETY
In recent years, the LGBTQ+ community has been increasingly persecuted by Indonesian society. There is little unity to speak of for a socially diverse country that seeks to deliberately exclude the LGBTQ+ gender minorities.
An organisation that provided counselling for LGBT students from the University of Indonesia (the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC) was criticised by Minister of Technology, Research and Higher Education Muhammad Nasir. He said that the LGBT community corrupts the morals of the nation and should be barred from university campuses. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Nasir Djamil also spoke up about this issue, stating that the LGBT community was a serious threat to the nation.
Indonesia's LGBT community was attacked by Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, where he labelled them as a "threat" and accused them of brainwashing supporters.
"There is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement" stated presidential spokesman Johan Budi, adding to the increasing targeting of LGBT community by politicians. This comment came at a time when Indonesia's LGBT community experienced a deterioration on their rights, following a wave of angry rhetoric from ministers, religious hardliners and influential Islamic organisations in 2016.
Prospective applicants of Andalas University, West Sumatra, were required to fill up a discriminatory declaration form on their sexual orientation. Tafdil Husni, a University of Andalas official, said that students who did not want to sign the form need not apply to the university. This controversy comes on the heels of various anti-LGBT rights issues in Indonesia.
Anwar Abbas from Myhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization, called for Indonesians to boycott Starbucks and urged the government to revoke its operating license given Starbucks' support for the LGBT community.
Indonesia's Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saiffudin condemned LGBT people, stating that "there is no religion that tolerates LGBT action" despite asking "religious adherents" to "embrace and nurture" LGBT people with religious teachings. He has previously mentioned that LGBT people were "mentally ill" and in need of "treatment -- either psychological or religious".
Muslim Ayub, an Indonesia MP from the Islamist National Mandate Party (PAN), believes that LGBTQ people should be sentenced to death or a life in prison for engaging in same-sex relations. Ayub and his party wants to continue to criminalise gay sex as the whole LGBT community should face persecution.
House of Representatives speaker Bambang Soesatyo wrote false statements in an opinion piece that gay lifestyles spawned “horrifying” excesses such as murders, HIV/AIDS and paedophilia. He further urged for legislation to focus on curbing the lifestyles of the LGBT community.
Indonesia's religious minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin clarified that "all religions rejected LGBT communities" after a Twitter user showed a clip of him attending a supposed pro-LGBT forum. Lukman urged the public to treat LGBT individuals with empathy "so that they will change their deviant ways".
LGBT communities in Indonesia have been facing increasing crackdowns from the police to "ensure the city is clean from LGBT". The Satpol municipal police in Padang, West Sumatra, arrested ten people assumed to be lesbians, sending them to a local social affairs agency to undergo an "education program". In Lampung province, the local police arrested and humiliated three people suspected to be transgender women by hosing them down in public using a fire truck for a "mandatory bath". They did so to "provide safety and maintain public order".
The city of Pariaman on Sumatra Island passed a discriminatory regulation forbidding "immoral acts" between same sex couples and prohibits residents from "acting as a transvestite". Members of the LGBT community would be sanctioned or fined if they disturb the public order.
Dishoborably discharged on discriminatory grounds after colleagues forcefully outede him and his partner on Valentine's Day in 2017, the former Indonesian police brigadier filed a complaint to the human rights commission claiming he was fired for being gay. His legal challenged come amid rising government and punlic hostility toward the LGBTQ community in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
Leaders in Muslim-majority Indonesia have been increasingly targeting the LGBTI community. Labelling LGBTI citizens the "main enemy of national development", the head of Indonesia's population and family planning agency, Nofrijal, even went on to encourage regional leaders to help fight the LGBTI "disease".
State-sanctioned homophobia has become commonplace in Indonesia in recent years, with senior military figures claiming the LGBT rights movement part of a "proxy war". A comic series purportedly about self-help, ethics and patriotism, the Indonesian military posted a now-deleted comic outlining the perceived "risks" of being LGBT onto its public relations Twitter account. The national police spokesman said that being LGBT was an "emergency" and a "disease" which the community needed to work to prevent, likening it to the grooming of children by pedophiles.
The AGO's website listed discriminatory criteria for applicants and said they could not have "physical or mental disorders, including sexual orientation deviations and behavioural deviations". Its spokeman, Mukri, said the office "just want the normal ones" and that "all religions still prohibit that kind of act".
The nation's international schools are quizzing foreign teachers to determine if they are LGBTQ, with queries such as their preferred "gender composition of an orgy". They are billed as part of a psychological exam and are allowed "under a 2015 government regulation that prohibits international schools from hiring foreign teachers who have an indication of abnormal sexual behaviours or orientation".
Depok's mayor, Mohammad Idris, ordered raids into the residences of the LGBT community in his city after a local man was convicted in Britain for sexually assaulting 48 men. The local LGBT community was braced for hysteria over the case when Idris added that the town would establish a rehabilitative center to assist "victims" in the LGBT community.
Touted as one of Asia's top gay destinations, even Bali is not immune from Indonesia's growing anti-LGBT sentiment. Several villas in the resort towns were targeted and investigated, after "allegations surfaced" that it catered to the gay community, based on the belief that homosexuality is against the cultural norms in Bali.
LGBT indonesians have faced rising hostility in recent years despite homosexuality not being illegal. The recently proposed Family Resilience Bill would compel people with "deviant" sexual persuasions to undergo "rehabilitation". Such articles concerning sexual orientation have been widely mocked online and have cast doubts on Indonesia's commitment to human rights protection.
A gay soldier in Indonesia is fighting a legal battle over his alleged personal relations with three men in 2017 and 2018, with accusations against him for violating public decency, disobeying a command and violating the Military Criminal Code. His trial in a martial court was the latest example of numerous forms of persecution against the LGBT community across the country.
The victim died from her injuries after she was accused of stealing, doused with petrol and set on fire by six suspects. The Indonesian police moved to absolve the suspects by claiming they had no intention to kill and thus no murder charges would be brought against them.
The murder of Mira, a transwoman who was burned to death by a mob in Cilincing, North Jakarta, and a widely criticized prank by YouTuber Ferdian Paleka, who delivered “care packages” full of garbage to transwomen in Bandung, West Java, served as reminders that many challenges remain for those advocating for the rights of LGBT people.
STRIVING TOWARDS A MORE INCLUSIVE INDONESIA
In spite of the progressive steps undertaken in other parts of the world, the LGBTQ+ community in Indonesia continues to face discrimination and suffer at the hands of the constitution and authorities. The social stigma and institutionalized discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community contrasts sharply with Indonesia’s motto of ‘Unity In Diversity’ where differences are supposedly to be celebrated and embraced.
Pelangi Nusantara was established in order to steer public discourse towards a more humane and just treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Indonesia.
We hope that you can join us in conversations about the Indonesian LGBTQ+ community’s fundamental rights to inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. The fight for a more inclusive society remains an arduous uphill battle. As such, we earnestly seek the support of both local and international entities that can elevate the plight of our LGBTQ+ community.
Join us in the fight for a more inclusive Indonesia that embraces gender and sexual diversity!