“There is no room in Indonesia” for an “LGBT movement”, declared a presidential spokesman.
Johan Budi made this claim after damming report from Human Right Watch (HRW), released yesterday, saying that the Indonesian government has been stoking an unprecedented attack on LGBTI people.
The report said that Indonesia’s government uses anti-LGBTI campaigns that includes hateful rhetoric, discriminatory edicts, and the use of force to repress peaceful assembly.
The 56-page report, “‘These Political Games Ruin Our Lives’: Indonesia’s LGBT Community Under Threat,” documents how officials’ biased and untrue statements LGBTI people provided social sanction for harassment and violence and even death threats by militant Islamists.
For example, recently, Ryamizard Ryacudu, Indonesia’s defense minister, labelled LGBTI rights activism as a “proxy war” on the nation led by “outsiders, more dangerous than a nuclear bomb”. While minister for political, legal, and security affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan said that homosexuality “is a disease of a chromosome, and it should be treated.”
State media only allows biased portrayal of LGBTI people, and any attempts at portraying them as “normal” people is deemed as propaganda.
In response to the damming report by HRW, Johan Budi told AFP that protecting LGBTI rights was not a priority for the government: “Rights of citizens like going to school and getting an ID card are protected, but there is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement.”
In their report, HRW said that “what began as public condemnation quickly grew into calls for criminalisation and ‘cures’, laying bare the depth and breadth of officials’ individual prejudices”.
In effect such policies and statements resulted in January and February this year in exacerbated violence against LGBTI people, the report said.
“The impact of anti-LGBT rhetoric from government officials is enormous for us as individuals. For those of us who have worked so hard and risked so much to come out, it is a major step backward,” a lesbian activist in eastern Indonesia told HRW.
Indonesian law does not specifically have a sodomy law, but its provincial governments to establish certain Islamic-based laws, such as criminal sanctions for homosexuality. In addition, Indonesia offers no protection or anti hate crime legislation for LGBTI people. Indonesia, compared with Malaysia and other neighbouring countries, has been relatively “tolerant”, but the recent developments have caused what HRW described as a “crisis of violence” against LGBTI people.
Living conditions for LGBTI people are considered precarious, as members of the community are subject to attack, discrimination and even arrest and abuse by authorities. This forces people to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the wake of surging anti-LGBTI sentiments in 2016, Islamist parties like Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and United Development Party (PPP), have proposed an anti LGBTI bill to ban rights activism, and criminalise LGBTI behaviour.