While Indonesia officially recognizes a number of religions and perspectives, the country is largely conservative in social values. This has led to vilification and persecution of the LGBT community, which is again under threat from heavy-handed authorities and a complicated judicial system.
Recent targeting of the community has raised questions, with many argue that the laws simply do not apply to LGBT, as arguing laws condemn someone who has sexual intimacy with another person to whom they are not married, while fornication laws mostly punish pedophilia. The largely autonomous province of Aceh, which abides by Shariah law, condemns homosexuality.
For the past few years, persecution of the LGBT community has greatly increased. The sensational early 2016 cyanide coffee murder of Wayan Mirna Salihin by Jessica Kumala Wongso led to widespread rumours of a sexual and romantic relationship between the two, while iconic dangdut singer Saiful Jamil was arrested for sexual relations with boys under 20 escalated contempt toward the community.
A recent public caning in Aceh, which saw two young men punished with 85 lashings after engaging in consensual sex, saw widespread condemnation from LGBT and human rights activists and support from conservative groups. A raid on a North Jakarta spa in late May has further escalated concerns within the community.
Organizations have sprung up to help protect the rights of the LGBT community. Arus Pelangi, the largest such group, formed to campaign for the rights of people across all sexual orientations and gender identities. The group has been active in defending rights as persecution increases.
“The ideas of hate are growing stronger and it is proven by the comments posted online about LGBT people. There have even been comments to destroy and burn LGBT people and communities,” Arus Pelangi activist Lini Zurlia told Indonesia Expat on Wednesday, June 7. Read more via Indonesia Expat