MUI, Islamic organizations push for LGBT+ criminalization

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

Consensual same-sex relations between adults is not a crime in Indonesia, but calls from religious conservatives to make it so have alarmingly gotten louder.


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On Tuesday, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) — the highest clerical body in the nation — held a meeting with leaders of major Islamic organizations in Jakarta in which they discussed the LGBT+ “problem.”

The attendees then issued a joint statement calling for activities and behavior associated with the oft-maligned communities to be criminalized in the draft revision to Indonesia’s Criminal Code (RKUHP).

“Even if [the presence of] LGBT do not directly affect other individuals, their impact is actually greater in that they can destroy the nation’s character,” MUI Chairman Cholil Nafis said.

“Aside from rejection, we also want to cooperate with other parties to rehabilitate people who contract LGBT. We want to involve clerics, psychologists, as well as several hospitals to help those with wrong orientations and straighten them out.”

In 2014, MUI actually issued a fatwa (religious edict) declaring that all same-sex relations and queerness are haram (forbidden) and a crime under Islamic laws.

While no piece of legislation exists to punish same-sex relations and queerness in Indonesia, a recent wave of homophobia has emboldened gay-bashing politicians, including Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD. The senior minister has even assured the public that the government has included prosecution of same-sex relations in the RKUHP.

The House of Parliament (DPR) is aiming to pass RKUHP into law in a July 2022 plenary session. DPR failed to ratify a previous iteration of the bill in 2019 amid concerns that it would threaten democracy, set back civil liberties and open up new ways to discriminate against the country’s religious and sexual minorities.

In 2017, LGBT+ Indonesians were spared legal prohibition of being their true selves after the Constitutional Court (MK) rejected a petition filed by the Indonesian Family Love Alliance (AILA) to include criminalization of same-sex relationships in the existing Criminal Code (KUHP). Despite MK rejecting the petition, it should be noted that three out of seven justices actually agreed with AILA at the time. 

Not long after the decision, Mahfud MD, himself formerly the chief justice of MK, stated that any attempt to revise KUHP should be done by the DPR and not the court.

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