Last Friday saw yet another mass demonstration by anti-LGBT protesters in Indonesia, this time taking place in the West Java city of Bogor just outside of Jakarta. It echoed another protest that took place the previous Sunday in the West Sumatran City of Payakumbuh as both involved thousands of participants and were followed by promises from officials to enact more discriminatory legislation against the vilified minority group.
Despite the pouring rain, a crowd reportedly consisting of thousands of demonstrators — mainly from Muslim civil society organizations such as the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) — marched from Bogor’s Grand Mosque to Bogor City Hall on Friday afternoon under the collective banner of the Bogor Anti-LGBT Community Forum.
The forum’s chairman, Abdul Halim, described being LGBT as “very contagious” and dangerous because it could cause diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
“The community must play an active role in refusing them and not giving them any space to keep them from growing,” Abdul said.
Contrary to those assertions, human rights organizations report that LGBT Indonesians are more afraid than ever due to country’s increasingly hysterical moral panic about gay rights and state-sponsored acts of discrimination, forcing them underground and out of the reach of medical outreach programs, which is actually exacerbating Indonesia’s HIV/AIDS problems.
At any rate, the anti-LGBT protesters delivered a number of demands to officials at City Hall. As detailed in the statement below, which was posted to the official Bogor Government Facebook page, the protesters demanded that officials reject LGBT actions and behavior of all kinds and create regulations to prohibit LGBT activities such as the closure of social media sites and mobile applications.
Ribuan peserta aksi yang mengatasnamakan Forum Masyarakat Bogor Anti LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Biseksual dan Transgender)…
Bogor Mayor Bima Arya then received 25 representatives from the protest to discuss their demands along with other senior officials including the chief of police.
Bima said he agreed to a number of the protesters’ demands and would followed up immediately at the local level by drafting regulations as well as voicing their demands at the national level by bringing the matter up with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Although he did not provide specific details on what sort of anti-LGBT regulations he planned on passing, the crowd cheered when he delivered his vague promises of action to them.
As with all of the other local governments that have promised to pass anti-LGBT regulations in their districts, the question remains whether such regulations could exist without contravening national law since homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia (except in North Sumatra’s Aceh, the only region of Indonesia with special autonomy to enact explicitly sharia-based law). In many parts of the country, authorities have to take extra-legal action to harass and assault LGBT individuals on biased grounds such as “maintaining public order” (as happened in the case of 10 “suspected lesbians” who were recently detained by police in the Padang).
However, the Ministry of Justice lost the authority to revoke regional laws that contradicted national law, meaning that any regional anti-LGBT law would likely have to be challenged in the Supreme Court to be overturned.
Although efforts by conservative parties to criminalize LGBT behavior at the national level stalled out earlier this year, senior political figures such as Deputy House Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid from the Islam-based PKS party continue to push for the discriminatory legislation.
Human Rights Watch recently released a report highlighting a disturbing rise in persecution against LGBT individuals in Indonesia. In addition to vigilante acts, it has also taken the form of state-sponsored persecution involving a number of anti-LGBT statements and policies made by government officials in the last few weeks. Amnesty International also released a report last week saying that the country’s crackdowns on the LGBT community have “hit alarming level”.