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Critical Situation for Indonesia’s LGBT Communities

I Am (Saya)

Indonesia is hardly a utopia for those practising an alternative or different lifestyle, and the brunt is especially felt by those of alternative sexual orientations. The country is still largely conservative and floats unsure of itself through the 21st century attempting to arrive at some meeting point between traditions with modern ideals. In the last few years, political and social movements against the LGBT community are becoming more frequent and intense.

In November we woke to the news of an attack against a dozen homosexual Indonesians gathering in Jakarta. It was led by the Indonesia Police in collaboration with one of the largest fundamentalists groups. The crackdown also happened online, which leaves little to no safe space for LGBT peoples in Indonesia.

In January this year, Indonesia’s Technology, Research & Higher Education Minister, Muhammad Nasir, stated that Indonesian universities must uphold standards of ‘values and morals’ and should not support organisations promoting LGBT activities. This only added to the pressure felt by LGBT groups in academic settings.

Diplomatically, Indonesia has joined a group of 17 countries, including Saudi Arabia, to block UN plans on including LGBT Rights in their new urban strategy plans. Earlier in the year, 12 academics from Aliansi Cinta Keluarga (Family Love Alliance) petitioned the Constitutional Court of Indonesia to change existing laws to make it illegal for consenting adults to involve themselves in homosexual acts, an act they said should be punishable by up to five years in jail. The situation was made much worse by conservative media groups.

The lack of LGBT voices in national media is a huge problem as they are not able to provide a discourse that challenges the views of conservatives. This silence is in part due to government crackdowns on LGBT organisations. Our Voice’s SuaraKita has been shut down several times by hackers and the government filter systems. The same is happening to other LGBT organisations and media outlets who promote tolerance.

While my intention in writing this article was not to display desperate notions, I honestly find myself desperate at the state in which the LGBT community finds itself in currently and the further difficulties that they will face ahead. We cannot allow this to happen, we need more action!