Indonesia: LGBT communities brace for criminalization

Grace Poore, from Malaysia, is the regional program coordinator for Asia and the Pacific Islands at OutRight Action International, an international organization working to advance the human rights of LGBTIQ people globally. She oversees multi-country documentation and advocacy projects in Asia, conducts training on human rights documentation, and facilitates lesbian, bisexual and transgender engagement with UN mechanisms, specifically the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She has produced several documentary films and also enjoys writing fiction.

The Indonesian parliament is expected to vote in favor of proposed Criminal Code amendments that will criminalize consensual same-sex behavior and sex outside of marriage (extramarital and premarital). This vote will disproportionately impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people along with thousands of heterosexual adults in intimate non-marital relationships.

By no stretch has all of Indonesia been openly accepting of LGBT people prior to the ongoing anti-LGBT campaign, but the level of coordinated fearmongering, hostility, and terror tactics being used against LGBT communities since 2016 is unprecedented

For the LGBT community, this is blatant betrayal; betrayal by fellow Indonesians, betrayal by moderates in parliament, and betrayal by President Joko Widodo, who campaigned on a platform for human rights in 2014 – the first president in nearly 70 years who is not from the political elite or the military, often celebrated as the “people’s president.”

From the outside, what I see in Indonesia is an unfettered rise of Islamist power, shredding the reputation that Indonesia has long held: a country with the largest Muslim population in the world that practices a tolerant, moderate Islam. For the last 26 months, there has been an erosion of pluralist, moderate Islam fueled by Islamist hardliners.

Moving away from moderate Islam

The majority religion of Indonesia has been moderate Islam. In 2017, Widodo declared that Indonesia is still a nation of moderate Islam despite indications that the country is moving backwards on social tolerance and acceptance.

The attacks on LGBT people are part of a growing trend, one which sees a particularly narrow interpretation of Islam encroaching on more tolerant ways of being Muslim in Indonesia. The result – Indonesia is devolving from a moderate Muslim nation into this current horrifying state of intolerance. Read more via Asia Times