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Indonesia: Political Party Proposes Anti-LGBT Law

(Mar. 9, 2016) One Indonesian political party, the People’s Conscience Party (Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat, known by the shortened name Hanura) has proposed that the country enact a law curtailing the rights of homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered people. (Viriya Paramita Singgih, Hanura Calls for Law Against LGBT People, JAKARTA POST (Mar. 5, 2016).)  Homosexuality is not outlawed at present in Indonesia, except in Aceh Province, which operates under a degree of autonomy and applies Sharia law.  The purpose of the law would be to curb the presence of LGBT individuals in the nation.  The proposal comes at a time of reports of growing discrimination in Indonesia against that community.  (Id.; Beenish Ahmed, Indonesia’s Frightening and Sudden Turn Against LGBT People, THINK PROGRESS (Mar. 3, 2016).)

The law envisioned by Hanura would comprise sanctions against and rehabilitation for LGBT individuals, together with restrictions on their activities.  The Secretary-General of the party, Berliana Kartakusumah, has expressed the view that people become homosexual or transgendered due to environmental influences.  He suggested that “[b]eing LGBT  is an infectious and dangerous disease … .  LGBT must be banned, like we banned communism and drug trafficking.”  (Singgih, supra.)

Hanura is a minor political party established in December 2006 and led by Wiranto; its headquarters is in Jakarta.  Hanura’s party vision is described as encompassing the principles of national independence and social welfare and rejecting foreign interference in the life of Indonesia.  (Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat, MERDEKA.COM (last visited Mar. 7, 2016).)

Opposition to the Proposed Law

Indadun Rahmat, the head of the National Commission on Human Rights, has opposed the idea of the law proposed by Hanura.  He noted, “[t]he state has an obligation to prevent LGBT people from phobias that lead to violence. … Do not let them be discriminated against in terms of work, health services or freedom of expression.  The state has to be there for them.”  (Singgih, supra.)

Changed Atmosphere Concerning LGBT People  

Since January 2016, when the Minister of Research and Technology and Higher Education said that LGBT people should be banned from college campuses, public discourse in Indonesia has reportedly become more negative towards the LGBT community.  (Endy M. Bayuni, Opinion: Gay Bashing Signals Indonesia’s Growing Intolerance of Minorities, STRAITS TIMES (Mar. 5, 2016).)  Some psychiatrists in the country have called LGBT individuals mentally disordered.  (Liza Yosephine, Indonesian Psychiatrists Label LGBT as Mental Disorders, JAKARTA POST (Feb. 24, 2016); Singgih, supra.)

The harsher climate has resulted in an increase in incidents of discrimination and abuse.  According to a survey carried out by Arus Pelangi, an organization that defends the rights of the LGBT community in Indonesia, more than 89% of the members of that community have experienced “psychological, physical, sexual, economic, and cultural abuse.”  (Ahmed, supra.)

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, has said that treatment, including counseling, should be offered to LGBT individuals in hopes of changing their sexual orientation or gender identity.  He has asked that all Islamic organizations and religious affairs offices throughout the country conduct this counseling.  He said, “[w]e cannot be hostile nor hate as they are also citizens of the state.  This doesn’t mean that we condone or allow for the LGBT movement to shift the religious values and the identity of the nation.”  (More Political Leaders Speak Out Against LGBT, JAKARTA POST (Mar. 4, 2016).)