After accusation of same-sex marriage support, Indonesian political parties rush to criminalize LGBT

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

In December, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected a petition to amend the country’s criminal code (KUHP) in a way that would have made homosexual acts, and indeed all sex outside of marriage, illegal. Although human rights activists cheered the decision, the judges primarily based their decision on the idea that such an amendment was outside their jurisdiction and that it was  parliament’s job to create new laws.

Since then, anti-LGBT forces have focused on lobbying political parties to support passing an updated version of the KUHP, including the criminalization of same sex relations. A shocking falsehood told by the chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, over the weekend may have ensured that an anti-LGBT version of the KUHP has sufficient support to pass.

“Currently in the Parliament they are discussing an LGBT law or same-sex marriage. There are already five political parties that approve LGBT,” Zulkifli said on Saturday as quoted by Merdeka.

There are absolutely no draft laws in discussion in the Parliament regarding positive LGBT rights or same-sex marriage (both ideas that are abhorrent to the vast majority of Indonesians, making such a claim extremely controversial). Zulkifli, who is also the head of the PAN Party, refused to name which factions supported those imaginary laws on more than one occasion.

House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo said that Zulkifli was incorrect in that there were no such laws under discussion. But he did say that House Commission III was discussing a new draft version of the KUHP, including the possible criminalization of same-sex relationships.

Bambang said the currently the KUHP explicitly makes same-sex acts between an adult and a minor illegal, but that there was widespread support for extend that law in the new version to make all same-sex acts illegal. The house speaker added that he personally rejected the LGBT community for destroying the nation’s morale and that he believed the majority of parliament members felt the same.  

“Certainly we should extend the scope of punishment against LGBT behavior, not only for adults abusing children but all same-sex relationships must be punished,” Bambang said as quoted by Tribun.

Arteria Dahlan, a member of Commission III from President Joko Widodo’s PDIP party, said Zulkifli’s statement was ridiculous and challenged the MPR chair to prove that there were in fact five “pro-LGBT” parties in parliament, saying that it might lead to a public misunderstanding otherwise.

Most worryingly, Arteria said that almost all of the party factions on the committee drafting the new KUHP have expressed their support for expanding the criminal code to include homosexual acts. He said that only factions that had not were PAN and Hanura, but only because they had not attended the discussion (both parties have made clear that they are anti-LGBT rights).

Last month there were reports that there were three factions that still rejected the addition of homosexual acts to the KUHP, but under intense pressure and widespread public paranoia about homosexuality, those numbers may indeed now have shifted. The commission is scheduled to have a final revision of the draft KUHP ready for consideration by the rest of the house on Feb. 5.

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