Indonesia officials attack LGBT community

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia

There’s concern about a spate of anti-gay comments from government officials in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation.

Since January 2016, local government and education officials have called for discriminatory anti-LGBT measures, including suggesting bans on LGBT student groups on university campuses and ordering police to halt an HIV outreach event for gay and bisexual men.

“President Jokowi should urgently condemn anti-LGBT remarks by officials before such rhetoric opens the door to more abuses,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT Rights Director at Human Rights Watch.

“The president has long championed pluralism and diversity. This is an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment.”

The Indonesian government is obligated under international law to protect everyone in the country regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Human Rights Watch said.

Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission has condemned the officials’ vitriolic statements and urged law enforcement agencies to protect LGBT people from violence by community groups.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, except for Muslims in the Aceh province. The national government allowed the province to introduce a by-law through which Muslims found guilty of homosexuality face up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison.

In March 2015, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s top Muslim clerical body, called for severe punishment for those caught having consensual gay sex, including the death penalty.

In October, Sharia (Islamic law) police in Aceh province arrested a pair of young women for the absurd crime of “hugging in public.”

The following month, Brawijaya University authorities cancelled an LGBT event, claiming they had received threats of an attack.

Most recently, the Islamic Defenders Front, a militant Islamist organisation, harassed participants in a seminar on access to justice for LGBT people on February 4, in Jakarta.

“Protecting LGBT people from violence and discrimination is part of Indonesia’s human rights commitments,” Reid said. “President Jokowi should make an unambiguous statement of support for the fundamental rights of all Indonesians and pledge to protect LGBT people from attacks.”

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