The latest casualty of the current “LGBT panic” in Indonesia was an event that was meant to be held last Sunday night in Surabaya called the “#GueBerani (I am Brave) Party”. Despite its name, the event was not in fact a party meant only for members of the LGBT community. As made clear in the promotional materials for the event, it was actually more of a seminar aimed at getting people information about HIV/AIDS and where they could get tested.
“It’s today, ladies and gentlemen. The # GueBerani Surabaya Launch Party is today!
With the support of the Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Commission, at the party later, friends can instantly find information on the clinics or hospitals where you can find out about your HIV status.
Nonetheless, the mere notion of a “gay party” taking place was enough for the Surabaya Police to threaten to shut down the event “for disturbing the public”, forcing the event’s organizers to cancel it.
Perhaps the organizers should have realized that using the word “party” would be too provocative for the general public. But the organizers said they were just trying to make the event feel more fun so that more people would come.
Dodik Indrianto, a representative of event organizer King Entertainment, said that previous seminars meant to educate the public about HIV testing had not been attended by many people, so they decided to do something different this time.
As proof that it was basically an educational seminar open to all, Dodik said the organizers had invited members of the Surabaya Health Department, the Surabaya HIV/AIDS Commission and several local health centers.
The founder of the GAYa Nusantara foundation, Dede Oetomo, called the cancellation of the #GueBerani Party deplorable. “It’s just a part of the regular HIV testing campaign; it’s actually a program of the Health Ministry. It’s been held in Surabaya for a long time; also in Jakarta,” he said as quoted by Tempo.
Dede said the goal was to make these events seem less intimidating and scary to members of the community that desperately need HIV/AIDS testing and education, which is why they were not held at health clinics.
East Java Governor Soekarwo went on to Twitter to reassure his citizens that they had been saved from the evils of the “gay party”.
“Thank God to all the netizens of Indonesia. I made sure that the plans for the Gay community in Surabaya’s party tonite are CANCELLED.”
Yep, good work governor, you have protected your community from receiving important information about HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, Surabaya has the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients in East Java. Congratulations.