Indonesian city passes law making LGBT behavior subject to IDR1 million fine

Protesters in the West Sumatra City of Payakumbuh on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2018. Photo: Irsyad Syafar / Facebook
Protesters in the West Sumatra City of Payakumbuh on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2018. Photo: Irsyad Syafar / Facebook

Government-sponsored discrimination against the LGBT community in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra has reached new heights with the passing of a new bylaw in the city of Pariaman that forces members of the vilified minority to pay a substantial fine just for expressing their sexual identities.

Just weeks after several massive protests against the LGBT community in West Sumatran cities including Payakumbuh and the capital city of Padang (which has led to, among other things, government-sponsored plans for LGBT “exorcisms”), Pariaman’s lawmakers on Tuesday went one step further by becoming the first city in Indonesia to criminalize LGBT outside of Aceh, which has special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based laws.

“LGBT individuals and waria (transgenders) will be given sanctions and fines if they cause social unrest,” Pariaman City Regional Council Deputy Chairwoman Fitri Nora said, as quoted by Detik.

Two LGBT-specific articles were added to the city’s Peace and Order regulations, one which prohibits expression of transsexual behavior that could cause “public unrest” and another which prohibits same-sex sexual relations. Violation of either article is punishable by a IDR1 million (US$70) fine.

Deputy Mayor Mardison Mahyudin claimed the new articles were “desired by all parties” in Pariaman City.  

“People are anxious, we have received a lot of reports so we proceeded to make the regulation,” Mardison said on Wednesday, as quoted by Detik.

Mardison added that, aside from the fine, the city will also enforce social sanctions against LGBT individuals based on traditional and cultural beliefs, sanction that could come take the form of having to buy cement or buffaloes for their community or being ostracized by their villages.

It remains to be seen if Pariaman’s criminalization of the LGBT community is the start of even more state-sanctioned discrimination against the minority group being given legal backing. Although efforts by conservative parties to criminalize LGBT behavior at the national level stalled out earlier this year, senior political figures such as Deputy House Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid from the Islam-based PKS party continue to push for the discriminatory legislation.

Human Rights Watch released a report last month, highlighting a disturbing rise in persecution against LGBT individuals in Indonesia. In addition to vigilante acts, it has also taken the form of state-sponsored persecution involving a number of anti-LGBT statements and policies made by government officials. Earlier this month, Amnesty International also released a report saying that the country’s crackdowns on the LGBT community have “hit alarming level”.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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