Human Rights Watch warns of further LGBTI persecution in Indonesia

Documents and decrees reviewed by HRW suggest lists of allegedly gay and bisexual men could be handed over to authorities.


Indonesia gay arrest

Human Rights Watch has called on Indonesian officials to take pre-emptive action against a resurgence in anti-LGBTI statements and policy proposals in Indonesia.

HRW says that officials in parts of West Java spent October calling for policies to arrest and “rehabilitate” LGBTI people.

Documents and decrees reviewed by HRW suggest lists of allegedly gay and bisexual men could be handed over to authorities.

They also call for schools to teach false information to demonise LGBTI people, and for queer Indonesians to be subjected to conversion therapy including medical intervention.

“Indonesian officials at all levels need to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination,” said HRW’s Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono.

“West Java’s governor, Ridwan Kamil, should unambiguously support the basic rights of all Indonesians, including LGBT people.”

Two men were arrested in Bandung earlier this month and charged for allegedly running a Facebook group for same-sex couples, seizing mobile phones and condoms as evidence of purported sexual orientation.

In July, public punishments for gay sex resumed in Aceh after officials promised they would only take place inside prisons or detention centres, with two men lashed 87 times.

A year ago, Human Rights Watch noted that over 500 people had been publicly caned for “victimless crimes” such as non-marital kissing and gay sex.

In March, Indonesian officials began to round up trans people in order to force them into “rehabilitation”, just a month after the country moved to classify being gay or bisexual as a “mental disorder”.

Same-sex sexual relations remain legal in most of Indonesia outside Aceh province, but authorities continue to weigh the possibility of criminalising gay sex outright.

Advocates say that the continued crackdown on LGBTI people has driven them underground and affected the country’s attempts to curb its HIV epidemic.

“Vitriolic anti-LGBT rhetoric from Indonesian officials gives social sanction and political cover to violence and discrimination,” said Harsono.

“Governor Kamil needs to uphold ‘unity in diversity’ by publicly opposing officials who treat LGBT people as a threat and putting an end to unlawful police behavior.”

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About the Author Laurence Barber

Laurence is Star Observer's Arts & Culture Writer and Digital Co-ordinator. His background is in film, television and arts criticism with a focus on LGBTI representation in media. For jokes, commentary and actress GIFs, you can follow him on Twitter @bortlb.

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