Over the weekend, Minister of Research Technology and Higher Education M. Nasir said that he was “forbidding” LGBT support groups from Indonesian university campuses because they could damage the nation’s morals. His comments were in response to news about the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC) on the campus of the University of Indonesia, which had created a peer support network for LGBT individuals.
Members of the LGBT community and their supporters rightfully criticized the minister for his comments and clearly Nasir has felt the backlash. Seeking to defend himself and perhaps do some PR damage control, he went to Twitter this morning and posted a 16-tweet long explanation for his LGBT ban.
Nasir first backtracks on his remarks by saying that Indonesia, as a civilized nation, believes that LGBT individuals should be treated the same as any others citizens and that their rights should be protected by the state.
3. Indeed, as Indonesian citizens, LGBT individuals should receive the same treatment in the eyes of the law.
4. However, this does not necessarily mean the state should legitimize LGBT status.
He goes on to say that he has not prohibited all forms of LGBT activities and that campuses should be open to research, education and building a scientific framework about LGBT issues.
10. My prohibition is against LGBT groups entering the campus when they do other less commendable actions such as making love or showing affection on campus.
11. This is what I mean when I say it will have an impact on the nation’s moral decay.
Ah, so it’s ok to be gay, as long as you don’t do act on it in any way whatsoever. Because that could damage the country’s morality. Right.
Narsir then says that being lesbian or gay is an individual’s right and adds:
13. I appeal to all the universities to always provide intensive assistance for students.
14. Because the campus environment can greatly affect the psychology of students.
Which somehow doesn’t strike him as contradictory, despite the fact that the group he specifically talked about forbidding was a university support group that aims to provide counseling to LGBT students who might be depressed or even suicidal.
It is very nice for the minister to say that LGBT individuals have rights that should be respected under the law, but it means very little when at the same time he is attempting to get rid of the very groups that could provide them with the support they desperately need.