Indonesia witnessed a ramp-up in officials openly discriminating against the LGBT community in the lead up to April’s national elections, with politicians in some highly conservative regions of the country such as West Sumatra making anti-LGBT rhetoric a major feature of their campaigns. Unfortunately, after a brief post-election lull, the issue is already back in the spotlight after members of the Gerindra party in Depok, a satellite city of Jakarta, proposed an explicitly anti-LGBT regulation in the Depok City Council (DPRD).
“We have proposed an anti-LGBT draft regulation (Raperda) to be discussed and ratified as a regional regulation. All parties have agreed to this draft regulation, the initiator of which was the Gerindra faction,” said Depok City Council member and Gerindra party cadre Hamzah on Sunday as quoted by Suara.
The chairman of the Gerindra party is Prabowo Subianto, who lost to President Joko Widodo in April’s election.
Hamzah said the basis for the proposed regulation was based on philosophical and sociological concerns. He argued that LGBT behavior was contrary to Indonesia’s state ideology of Pancasila (a notion that conservatives often assume, but which is highly debatable) and also referred to a statistic from the Depok City AIDS Commission claiming an increase in the number of gay men and people with AIDS in recent years (activists argue that anti-LGBT discrimination is hugely hampering AIDS prevention work by driving LGBT individuals underground).
There are no media reports detailing exactly what is included in Depok’s proposed anti-LGBT regulation. Homosexual acts are not illegal in Indonesia except in the ultra-conservative province of Aceh, which has special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based laws (although some conservatives are fighting to include such a law in a new draft of the national criminal code).
Various regional and city governments in Indonesia have passed or tried to pass laws discriminating against citizens on the basis of sexual orientation such as the city of Pariman in West Sumatra, which introduced a law last year fining those found committing homosexual acts. Such laws, as well as vague regulations on pornography and public order, are often used by authorities as a justification for raiding private gatherings of LGBT individuals and suppressing gay rights activists.
Human Rights Watch last year released a report highlighting a disturbing rise in persecution against LGBT individuals in Indonesia. The increase in anti-LGBT hysteria, the worst the country has seen since the height of the last LGBT moral panic 2016, was 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.