Indonesia’s parliament is currently trying to pass the Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence (RUU PKS), a piece of legislation which activist say is desperately needed to provide adequate legal protections for victims of gender-based violence. However, certain conservative groups and politicians have been fighting the bill, in large part by spreading falsehoods about the bill ‘legalizing’ adultery and/or LGBT relations (which are already ‘legal’ now anyway).
The latest politician to add to the misinformation about RUU PKS is the chairman of the small Peaceful and Benign Islamic Party (Partai Idaman), Rhoma Irama, although he is far more famous as Indonesia’s so-called “King of Dangdut” music.
Rhoma perpetuated the long-discredited falsehoods about the bill while campaigning for presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in Surabaya on Sunday.
While addressing his and Prabowo’s supporters at Surabaya’s Gelora Delta Sidoarjo Stadium, the conservative singer falsely stated that the bill would legalize adultery and LGBT.
“Do you want to know the contents [of RUU PKS]? As long as it is consensual, it means that men can commit adultery with women. As long as it is consensual, men can even marry men. Even women can marry women. This is LGBT, which has been embraced by several countries in the world,” Rhoma said as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Apparently, Rhoma is not familiar with the contents of RUU PKS itself nor existing Indonesian law. Currently, adultery can only be considered a criminal act in Indonesia under very narrow conditions (that being if a spouse reports their partner for cheating). Homosexual acts are also not illegal in Indonesia (except in the ultra-conservative region of Aceh) and RUU PKS says absolutely nothing about allowing for gay marriage.
That didn’t stop Rhoma from warning voters that reelecting incumbent President Joko Widodo would cause RUU PKS to pass, leading to all those immoral outcomes.
Many Prabowo supporters have spread lies relating to Jokowi ‘legalizing’ LGBT behavior or marriage using misinformation about RUU PKS. In February, three women were arrested after a viral video showed them going door to door campaigning for Prabowo by telling people that Jokowi would legalize gay marriage as well as the Islamic call to prayer. Police arrested them on the grounds of spreading hate speech.
Ustaz Tengku Zulkarnain, the vice secretary general of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), was forced to apologize last month after falsely stating in a video sermon that RUU PKS would require the government to provide contraceptives to young unmarried couples who wanted to have sexual relations, which he equated with the government legalizing adultery.
Proponents of RUU P-KS argue that its ratification is desperately needed to update the current archaic laws on sexual violence (which were drafted over 100 years ago during colonial times) and bring about more comprehensive legal protections and recovery mechanisms for victims.