Indonesia’s anti-LGBT drive should concern all Asia

Indonesia’s growing moral and political panic about sexuality has now produced draft laws that could criminalize sex outside marriage, and same-sex conduct.

Things may get even worse: One legislator has called for the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Others have cynically attempted to portray criminalization as a means of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from vigilante violence.

None of this bodes well for a country that proclaims a message of “unity in diversity” on the international stage, seeks to attract foreign investors and draws millions of tourists by promoting itself as a relaxed beach holiday destination.

 It is also profoundly concerning for the LGBT people who before 2016 lived peacefully, even piously, among pluralist neighbors.

The roots of Indonesia’s rising intolerance lie in the failure of successive governments to effectively respond to harassment, threats and violence by militant Islamists against religious, ethnic and sexual minorities – a trend that should concern all of Asia.

Parliamentarians in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed their concerns in a joint statement on Feb. 7. Teddy Baguilat, a Philippine lawmaker, calling the proposed laws “a blatant violation of all Indonesians’ right to privacy and their fundamental liberties.” Read more via HRW