The LGBT community in Indonesia is under siege as it faces expanding government efforts to erase it from television and on the internet in a misguided bid “to protect” children.
Human Rights Watch revealed that broadcasting officials met with the Indonesian Child Protection Commission last week and agreed that they need to block any content that might encourage children and adolescents to imitate or justify “LGBT behaviours” on television.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged governments to repeal laws that restrict LGBT information and “ensure that children who belong to LGBTI groups or children of LGBTI families are not subjected to any forms of discrimination.”
The government has also announced that it will ban microblogging and social networking website Tumblr due to its inclusion of pornography as well as its depiction of LGBT relationships in a positive light, reported The Jakarta Post.
Communications and Information Ministry E-business Director Azhar Hasyim told the newspaper: “If Tumblr then agrees to block pornography and LGBT content from being accessed in Indonesia, we will open [access to] the website again.”
The moves follow news that the government has ordered instant messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger to remove same-sex themed emoticons from their services or be banned from the country.
“Such contents are not allowed in Indonesia based on our cultural law and the religious norms and the operators must respect that,” Ismail Cawidu, spokesman for the Communication and Information Ministry, told AFP.
The messaging app LINE has already acceded to the demand and apologised for “the incidents of some stickers which are considered sensitive by many people.”
Kyle Knight, Researcher at the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch said that “blocking LGBT content is outrageous” and that it “contravenes international human rights standards and best practices.”
The organisation also recently slammed a spate of dangerous anti-gay comments from government officials in Indonesia.
Since January, 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.
Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, 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.