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Anti-LGBT sentiment rises ahead of Indonesia elections

By Nurul Fitri Ramadhani The Jakarta Post Monday November 12, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Several regional authorities are planning to create regulations designed to further curtail the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community — minority group frequently used as political fodder during election season.

Payakumbuh, the second-largest city in West Sumatra, is set to revise a 2016 bylaw on social ills to introduce several articles specifically banning LGBT activities to prevent the “deviant behavior” from spreading. 

“The Payakumbuh administration’s intention to include provisions regarding the LGBT community in the planned revision of the 2016 bylaw on social ills is feasible,” Payakumbuh Legislative Council Speaker Yendri Bodra of the Golkar Party said last week as quoted by Antara.

West Sumatra is known as one of the most religiously conservative provinces in the country that have been gripped by anti-LGBT hysteria.

West Sumatra Deputy Governor Nasrul Abit from the Gerindra Party has called on villages in the province to enact a nagari (village) regulation to impose sanctions against the LGBT community, including parading them or forcing them to pay a hefty fine.

In East Kotawaringin regency, Central Kalimantan, the local government and legislators have agreed to draft a bylaw to restrict LGBT activities.

The draft bylaw was initiated by the local legislative council based on the belief that LGBT people have detrimental impact on society. They expect to begin deliberations and pass the draft bylaw next year.

East Kotawaringin Regent Supian Hadi said he welcomed the initiative.

“I thank the council for this. I hope the plan can materialize as soon as possible because [the rise of LGBT activities] is alarming,” he said as quoted by Antara.

The regent said he believed homosexuality was an “infectious disease and against religious norms”.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association concluded that homosexuality was neither a mental disorder nor a sickness.

Some regional administrations have refrained from enacting a formal law and chose a softer policy by issuing a circular encouraging the public to fight homosexuality.

The administration of Cianjur regency in West Java, for example, has issued a circular encouraging preachers across the regency to send anti-LGBT messages in their sermons during Friday prayers.

The circular, issued on Oct. 15, reportedly aims at minimizing so-called LGBT behavior and prevent HIV infections. Only days after it was issued, the West Java Police arrested a gay couple for allegedly managing a Facebook page for the gay community in Bandung, West Java.

The couple has been charged with violating indecency articles in the 2016 Electronic Information and Transaction Law.

GAYa Nusantara, the country’s oldest LGBT advocacy group, said it was common for anti-LGBT sentiments to rise during election season.

However, no political parties are willing protect the community, the group’s founder Dede Oetomo told The Jakarta Post recently.

“Regional heads just follow the trend of other regions that have issued similar [anti-LGBT] bylaws. There is an organized effort from Islamist groups [to criminalize the LGBT community]. And the central government will never dare take action. The police back the regional heads,” Dede said.

“I don’t think political parties will dare to speak up about protecting LGBT people; even the leading nationalist party, PDI-P,” he said, referring to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

Observers argue that nationalist parties have even tried to outdo the Islamist parties in demonizing the LGBT community to gain votes.

Constitutional law expert Feri Amsar believed that politics was behind the recent attempt to enact discriminatory regulations.

He said regional administrations had the authority to enact bylaws, but it was not a license to discriminate against minority groups.

“They must guarantee that the bylaws do not violate the Constitution or human rights.”

From: THE JAKARTA POST (Indonesia) Monday November 12, 2018

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