Title: Indonesia: Temperature Falling... Credit: Craig Young Comment Saturday 5th March 2016 - 11:32am1457130720 Article: 18016 Rights
Do recent events suggest that there is an anti-LGBT backlash brewing in Indonesia? Certainly, February's events would lead one to conclude just that contingency. Which is odd. Apart from the conservative Muslim provinces of Aceh and South Sumatra, and despite the fact that multicultural Indonesia is a Muslim majority state, gay male and lesbian sexual identities are not subject to criminal prohibitions in most of that nation. Transgendered people are allowed to change sex, with several stipulations should they do so, but anti-discrimination laws, relationship and parenting equality are not covered by Indonesian statute. There was one half-hearted attempt to criminalise homosexuality, adultery, cohabitation and witchcraft back in 2003, but it died in the national legislature and was not reintroduced. Aceh introduced shariah law in 2002, and penalises homosexuality with corporal punishment- one hundred lashes. What are the origins of the current Indonesian anti-gay backlash? The Islamic Ulema Council (Majelis Ulema Indonesia) issued a fatwa against LGBT Indonesians in March 2015, labelling them 'deviant' and antithetical to the 'dignity' of Indonesia. This has provoked the vigilante fundamentalist Sunni "Islamic Defenders Front" to threaten and try to intimidate LGBT individuals, organisations and events. While Indonesia has traditionally been tolerant of waria (transwomen) who work in beauty salons and other positions, they are not protected by anti-discrimination legislation, and must conceal their gender identity to continue to be employed, otherwise they might become involved in Indonesia's underground sex industry as their only other option. Yuli Reutoblat, a waria, was US President Obama's nanny for two years when he was a child. As for Indonesia's LGBT movement, it dates back to the establishment of Lambda Indonesia (1982) and Yayasan Srikandi Sejati, which engages in HIV/AIDS counseling and condom provision for transgender sex workers. As for its adversary, the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam- FPI), it was founded in 1998 and has enjoyed support from high-ranking military and police officials. It intends to pressure the national legislature into applying shariah law for the whole of Indonesia. While police fund its activities, however, others have condemned it for consisting of "urban thugs." Thus far, as well as LGBT individuals, events and organisations, it has also attacked advocates of religious freedom and pluralism in Indonesia, minority Ahmaddiya Muslims, Indonesian Christians, alcoholic beverage sellers, and others. Kalimantan state's indigenous Dayak community staged a successful protest in defence of religious pluralism and multiculturalism to keep them off that island. As for the current 'crackdown', thus far, it has consisted of several events. (1) The New York Timesreported that the Indonesian Ministry of Communications had instructed Whats App and Line to purge themselves of any 'emoticons' commonly used by lesbians or gay men (2) At the University of Lampung, LGBT students and lecturers were threatened with expulsion and sacking for LGBT activism. Muhammad Nasir Djamil, the Minister for Higher Education, had denounced LGBT academic studies and student activism earlier (3) Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection has advocated the censorship and erasure of LGBT television content, resulting in immediate compliance from the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, particularly transgender/waria content (4) MP Effendi Simbolon opposed relaxed tourist visas for seventy six countries, fearing that it could contribute to the spread of LGBT culture within Indonesia (5) Vice President Jusuf Kalla has requested that the United Nations Development Programme not fund any Indonesian LGBT programmes (6) Indonesian Defence Minister Rymazad Ryacudu has described the LGBT movement as 'modern warfare' and claimed that it 'planned' to erode Indonesian sovereignty (7) The Indonesia Psychologists Association has claimed that homosexuality should be 'repathologised' (8) Visiting Grand Imam of Cairo's Azhar University Muhammad Amad Al Thayyib implied that there was an 'international conspiracy' to spread homosexuality (9) Yogakarta's Islamic transwomen's madrassa has been shut down after threats against its students (10) Tritiful Sembring of the Prosperous Indonesia Party has argued that LGBT people should be put to death. (11) Nahdlatul Ulema announces that it will not recognise LGBT Indonesians, called for 'rehabilitative' anti-gay reparative therapy and the criminalisation of homosexuality. This seems to be a co-ordinated campaign and it may be attributable to the influence wielded by the Islamic Defenders Front on military, police and parliamentary personnel. At the moment, the homophobic and transphobic incidents are just that- incidents, however co-ordinated they might seem to be to outside observers. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, and other countries beset by Islamist agitation however, Indonesia is a diverse and pluralist country. If its leadership panders to the FPI, it would lead to antagonisms across the archipelago from Hindu, Buddhist and other faiths represented within that sprawling nation. At present (29/02), there are no proposals for legislative reprisals against the Indonesian LGBT communities. Recommended: Sylvia Tan: "Indonesia's largest Islamic group calls on government to criminalise gay sex, activism"Gay Star News:28.02.2016:http://www. indonesias-largest-islamic- group-calls-on-government-to- criminalize-gay-sex-activism/ #gs.McXcUnU Greg Hernandez: "Member of Indonesia's Parliament tweets that gays should be put to death"Gay Star News: 27.02.2016:http://www. member-of-indonesias- parliament-tweets-that-gays- should-be-put-to-death/ #gs._uBH5Fk Darren Wee: "Indonesia's only transgender school shut down"Gay Star News: 26.02.2016:http://www. gaystarnews.c om/article/indonesias-only- transgender-islamic-school- shut-down/#gs.yRn8t58 Darren Wee: "Indonesia psychiatric body classifies homosexuality as 'mental disorder":Gay Star News: 25.02.2016:http://www. /article/indonesia- psychiatric-body-classifies- homosexuality-as-mental- disorder/#gs.yd_11og Andrew Potts: "Cairo Grand Imam tells Indonesia that being gay is a 'satanic crime against humanity"Gay Star News: 25.02.2016:http://www. ticle/cairo-grand-imam-tells- indonesia-being-gay-is-a- satanic-crime-against- humanity/#gs.iqxFj4w Stefanie Girds: "Indonesian Defence Minister: LGBTI Movement 'more dangerous than nuclear war'Gay Star News:23.02.2016:http://www. gaystarn minister-lgbti-movement-more- dangerous-than-nuclear-war/# gs.2Zwh9Xg Darren Wee: "Indonesia orders messaging app to remove gay emojis"Gay Star News: 12.02.2016:http://www. indonesia-orders-m essaging-app-to-remove-gay- emojis/#gs.P=BTC2U Darren Wee: "Indonesia minister wants LGBTI students banned from university"Gay Star News:25.01.2016:http://www. /indonesia-minister-wants- lgbti-students-banned-from- university/#gs.iAaHYuw Naith Payton: "Indonesian clerics issue fatwa against gays"Pinknews:17.03.2016: 2015/03/17/indonesian-clerics- issu e-fatwa-against-gays/ Stanley Widianto: "Bound by culture and religion, Indonesia is paranoid about LGBT rights but we won't be silenced"Guardian:26.02.2016:http://www. 2016/feb/26/bound-by-culture- and-religion-indonesia-is- paranoid-about-lgbt-rights- but-we-wont-be-silenced Wikipedia/LGBT rights in Indonesia:http://en. rights_in_Indonesia Wikipedia/Islamic Defenders Front: Islamic_Defenders_Front Craig Young - 5th March 2016    
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