No Room In Indonesia For Gay Rights

From The-Guardian:
There is “no room” for the gay community in Indonesia, the president’s spokesman has said, as a new report criticised officials for an unprecedented series of LGBT attacks.

“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,” presidential spokesman Johan Budi said.

Indonesia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens have long been targeted by vigilante Islamist groups.

But the community experienced an “immediate deterioration” in their rights following a sustained assault by ministers, religious hardliners and influential Islamic organisations in the space of two months this year, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday.

The wave of angry rhetoric – including a call to ban them from university campuses – was the first time senior officials had publicly attacked the south-east Asian nation’s gay community, the group said.

In response, the government said protecting LGBT rights was not a priority.

Some of the most high-profile figures making anti-gay statements during the backlash – which activists believe may have been triggered by media coverage of the US decision to legalise same-sex marriage – were government ministers.

The higher education minister called for a ban on LGBT organisations on university campuses, while the defence minister likened gay rights groups to a “type of modern warfare”.

Islamic activists have also filed a judicial review with the constitutional court aimed at making gay sex a crime. The court is currently holding hearings into the case.

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”.

The spike in anti-LGBT vitriol, predominantly during January and February this year, has intensified violence against sexual minorities throughout Indonesia, the report said.

Indonesia’s largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, in February described gay lifestyles as perverted and a desecration of human dignity. In Aceh, the only Indonesian province that applies Islamic law, the local government urged business owners to refuse to hire gay citizens.

In interviews with activist groups, HRW reported gay rights organisations shut their offices and even hid staff as threats mounted against them.

In Yogyakarta an Islamist group forced the closure of a transgender Islamic boarding school, while a peaceful rally in the same Central Javan city in support of Indonesia’s LGBT community was shut down.

“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.

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