Indonesia Says It Safeguards Rights of All, Including LGBT Citizens

A statement released by the Indonesian Embassy in Washington responded to a letter last week from 36 members of the U.S. Congress that condemned the Jakarta government's alleged disregard for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The European Parliament has raised similar concerns.

U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, who commissioned the letter, said it responds to "a growing pattern of a basic disrespect for human rights" and aims to mitigate the persecution of minority groups in Indonesia.

"By raising the profile of this issue, and simply putting the government on notice, we will see some positive effect," he told VOA. The New York Democrat, who is a co-chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, added: "If we don't, we'll take the next step." 

Last month there were several high-profile raids of saunas and "sex parties" in Indonesia, including one that resulted in the arrest of more than 140 men in Jakarta. In West Java, Indonesia's most populous province, officials have announced the creation of an anti-LGBT "task force," and a gay couple was publicly caned in conservative Aceh province, in the first application of a 2015 sharia or Islamic law.

His remarks on human rights in Indonesia came a day after the European Parliament adopted a resolution voicing similar sentiments.

The EP resolution also targeted Indonesia's use of capital punishmentand the practice of female genital mutilation.

Ignatius Puguh Priambodo, first secretary at the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels, told VOA the resolution "does not give Indonesia a chance to respond to the issues addressed in it" and ignores Indonesia's efforts to forge constructive dialogue with the EP. Read more via VOA