87.6% of Indonesians see LGBT as a threat, but slim majority say they deserve right to life and protection: survey

Indonesia once again seems to be experiencing a moral panic about LGBT rights, much as it did in 2016 when national political and religious leaders engaged in disturbing displays of homophobic rhetoric and scaremongering. At the moment, rights activists are concerned that Indonesia’s parliament will succumb to public pressure by ratifying a new draft of the country’s criminal code that would make include homosexual acts illegal, possibly as soon as next month.

But how much of that pressure is due to political hyperbole and how much is due to how average Indonesians feel about LGBT rights? The results of a new survey done by pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) in December show that Indonesians by and large disapprove and reject LGBT rights and individuals, though most at least agree that LGBT individuals have a right to live in the country.

The first question asked by the poll was if respondents knew about the term LGBT. About 58.3% of respondents said yes, a marked increase from the first time SMRC did the survey in March 2016 when only 48.8% of respondents said yes.



The 58.3% who said they knew LGBT were then asked if they perceived it as a threat. Overwhelming respondents said yes, with 87.6% saying they were either a threat or a serious threat, with 10.8% saying LGBT was not a threat.

The vast majority of respondents (81.5%) also said that LGBT was prohibited by religion. Some 79% of respondents said they would object to having a LGBT neighbor, while around 89% said they would object to LGBT politicians. 53.3% said they could not accept one of their family members if they were LGBT.

However, when asked whether LGBT individuals should be protected by the government, about 50% said they should. When asked whether LGBT citizens had the right to live in Indonesia, 57.7% said yes.

In conclusion, SMRC said that while many respondents negatively viewed LGBT citizens, their answers generally do not justify discrimination against the minority group, with the majority saying that LGBT individuals have a right to life in Indonesia.

“This is good news for those who believe in democracy and human rights, so there is tolerance,” said Ade Armando, media director at SMRC, as quoted by Tempo today.

But it feels like perhaps Ade and SMRC were trying to put an optimistic spin on some otherwise bleak figures. One might note that the crucial question of  whether or not respondents think homosexuality should be made illegal was not asked. Let’s hope that politicians will at least look at the more hopeful figures from this survey and decide against enshrining homophobic discrimination into the country’s criminal code.

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