Mayor of Padang leads thousands in anti-LGBT declaration march

Anti-LGBT protesters in the West Sumatran capital of Padang on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo: Padang DPRD / Facebook
Anti-LGBT protesters in the West Sumatran capital of Padang on Sunday, November 18, 2018. Photo: Padang DPRD / Facebook

Another week, another large state-sanctioned demonstration of hatred and fear towards Indonesia’s vilified LGBT minority. Following recent anti-LGBT actions the Jakarta satellite city of Bogor and the West Sumatran city of Payakumbuh, Sunday saw another massive protest in the West Sumatran capital of Padang, led by the city’s own mayor.

The Sunday morning protest was called “Aksi Long March Tolak LGBT Sumbar and Deklarasi Padang Bebas Maksiat” (Long March Action to Reject LGBT in West Sumatra and Declaration of Sin-Free Padang) and local media estimated several thousand people participated in the demonstration.

The long march part of the event involved a 2 km walk from the protest’s starting point to the West Sumatra Governor’s Office. Upon arriving at the destination, Padang Mayor Mahyeldi, a member of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), issued his warning to the “sinful”LGBT community and those who would try to defend them.

“To the perpetrators of sin, let them repent and those who protect them immediately be aware because they will face opposition from all parties and communities in Padang as well as security forces,” Mahyeldi said as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

Mayor Mahyedi promised that the number of Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) officers would be increased in 2019 to keep the city clean of LGBT elements.

Mahyedi and several other government, religious and education officials that participated in the protest signed a three-point declaration saying they would take steps to make Padang free from adultery, alcohol, drugs, LGBT and other sins, appeal to the public to not commit acts of immorality and maintain the city’s unity and safety by purging it of immorality.

Politicians in Padang, like several other cities in West Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia, are promising to issue regulations prohibiting LGBT behavior but many have acknowledged that since there are no national laws criminalizing homosexuality or discrimination against LGBT people such laws are likely to be struck down as unconstitutional. Those politicians say they will continue to agitate for anti-LGBT legislation from the national government but some have also suggested using customary law punishments, such as parading “suspects” through the street and exiling them from their villages, as a possible alternative.  

The recent increase in anti-LGBT hysteria, the worst the country has seen since the height of the last LGBT moral panic 2016, has been attributed by some to election year politics and cynical leaders looking to score easy electoral points with increasingly conservative voters by scapegoating the vulnerable minority group.

Their non-religion based arguments for persecuting LGBT individuals generally focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS, but studies have shown that the country’s attack on the gay community have driven them further underground in fear, preventing them from accessing medical outreach programs which is the actual cause for the country’s worsening HIV/AIDS infection rates.

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