Persecution of Homosexuals (Indonesia)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

Burning down of a hotel and the killing of participants leads to the cancellation of NGLN meeting, and an LGBT event commemorating World AIDS Day is attacked by Muslims who destroy equipment and assault attendees with knives and clubs, injuring over 25 and sending 3 to hospital

11 November 2000 - nearly ten years ago - at Wisma Hastorenggo in Kaliurang, Central Java, where 350 male-to-female transgender Indonesians gathered to commemorate World AIDS Day. However, 150 followers of the Ka'bah Youth Movement (Gerakan Pemuda Ka'bah) stormed into the ceremony, where they destroyed equipment and assaulted attendees with knives and clubs, ultimately injuring over 25 and sending three to the hospital. A year earlier, in September 1999, a comparable confrontation occurred at the Dana Hotel in Solo, where the National Gay and Lesbian Network planned to convene for a two-day working meeting. Days before it was scheduled to begin, conservative Muslim organisations, including MUI, learned of the event and proclaimed that it should not take place because it would be 'very embarrassing' and akin to 'legalising the practice of such sexual deviations'. Detractors threatened acts of violence - burning down the hotel and killing participants - which led to the swift cancellation of the meeting. Preparations for a press conference by Congress organisers were met with equal resistance and fundamentalist groups vowed to maintain surveillance to ensure that the event did not take place elsewhere.
Homophobia on the rise
Jamison Liang, Inside Indonesia 100: April-June 2010

Muslim communities thwart Indonesia's protection for gays. Government grants local authorities the right to use Islamic law, and several have recently passed laws making homosexuality illegal

A decision by the Indonesian government to allow areas of the country semi-autonomous power is having a devastating effect on the country's gays a leading local newspaper reports. In granting local authorities the right to use Islamic law gays are reportedly being round up and prosecuted despite a federal constitution which has in the past guaranteed LGBT civil rights. Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world. Although the federal government is secular the Jakarta Post reports that many provincial government have invoked Sharia law.

Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world. Although the federal government is secular the Jakarta Post reports that many provincial government have invoked Sharia law. Several local governments, the paper says, have recently passed laws making homosexuality illegal, banned alcohol and require women to wear headscarves and not travel alone at night.

This week LGBT rights group Arus Pelangi appealed to the federal ministry of Justice and Human Rights to force the regions to comply with national law. "Such ordinances are politically charged to please the majority,' Rido Triawan, director of Arus Pelangi, told ministry officials during a meeting the Post reports. Rido said that gays and transsexuals are frequently beaten on the streets in some areas. A government spokesperson said the issue will be taken under advisement but in some areas where Sharia law is in effect, the government has little control.

Police ban regional gay conference, fearing it could prompt violent protests. A member of the cleric council says "The event will hurt Indonesian Muslims because lesbians and gays are contrary to Islamic teaching"

Indonesian police ordered the cancellation Wednesday of a conference of Asian gay activists, saying it could prompt violent protests by conservative Muslim groups.
. . .

The decision was made after considering public objections by Muslim groups and the Indonesian Ulema Council, an influential board of Muslim clerics, he said.

"There are indications that the event could trigger a social crisis and cause public unrest," Ishak said. "This ban was issued for the sake of public order."

Poedjiati Tan, head of the organizing committee, said more than 150 activists representing 100 organizations in 16 Asian countries planned to attend the conference.

Tan said the committee is trying to appeal the decision with police and religious leaders, arguing that the conference was meant to raise awareness of social issues faced by gays.

"We want to convince Indonesian authorities and religious leaders that we only want to talk about social problems related to this minority group," she said. "We are seeking direction and a way out of our problems in health, education and issues of discrimination."

However, Abdussomad Bukhori, a prominent member of the cleric council, said the board would oppose any kind of gay event.

"The event will hurt Indonesian Muslims because lesbians and gays are contrary to Islamic teaching," he said. "We will continue to reject any kind of homosexual event."
Indonesian police ban regional gay conference
Niniek Karmini, Associated Press, March 24, 2010

Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Indonesia's highest Islamic body, issues a fatwa banning sex-change operations

Indonesia's highest Islamic body has followed up a series of contentious fatwas with a new edict banning Muslims from watching TV gossip shows or having sex-change operations.

The increasingly assertive Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said gossip shows about the intimate details of people's private lives -- a popular genre on Indonesian television -- were immoral and threatened society.
. . .
The controversy over infotainment shows began after sex videos featuring rock singer Nazril Ariel, 28, his girlfriend Luna Maya, 29, and ex-girlfriend Cut Tari, 32, went viral on the Internet in June.

Islamists called for the stars to be publicly stoned and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned that the country risked being "crushed by the information-technology frenzy".
. . .
Another fatwa passed at an MUI meeting late Tuesday forbade receiving or conducting a sex-change operation unless there is a good medical reason.

"People can argue about having the freedom to be whatever gender they choose, but it's against the norm. If you're born normal, you don't change your gender, cut off your arms or gouge out your eyeballs," Soleh said.

The council is the top Islamic authority in Indonesia and while most of its edicts are ignored, they can be cited by religious hardliners to justify vigilante-style crackdowns on "un-Islamic" activities.

It has recently issued a steady stream of fatwas including bans on inter-faith marriages, smoking and yoga.

150-strong Muslim mob attack hotel and assault organiser in response to a planned (but ultimately cancelled) international LGBT conference, and another LGBT conference planned for a month later also stormed by Muslims

Most Indonesian Muslims profess to be moderate and tolerant, but two incidents this year show how the LGBT community continues to come under attack from fundamentalist fringe groups. In March, a planned international LGBT conference in Surabaya, East Java, organized by ILG-Asia, a branch of theInternational Lesbian and Gay Association, was forced to cancel after coming under attack from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a radical group of hardline fundamentalists, and the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), an association of Muslim clerics.

A 150-strong mob attacked the lobby of the hotel after Friday morning prayers and refused to leave until the police and hotel management would guarantee that the event was cancelled. In the evening, the mob conducted a floor-by-floor sweep of the hotel, going to the rooms of the 150 conference participants from 14 countries to make sure that they had left. An organizer told Gay City News how he was repeatedly punched by one of the agitators in the hotel lobby for refusing to turn over ILGA's list of conference participants.

A month later, FPI stormed a human rights training program intended for transgender individuals at a hotel in Depok, West Java. The program, organized by the National Commission for Human Rights, had just begun when dozens of FPI members dressed in long white tunics and skull caps forced their way past police into the room. "Several people then suddenly banged on the door and shouted the name of God," a participant told The Jakarta Post.

"Transsexuals or homosexuals will not be able to have children. This is clearly against the human rights for reproduction, and [thus], threatens human existence," Yunahas Illyas, chair of the main committee in the influential Muhammadiyah Islamic group, told the local paper Republika in justifying the attack.

In the first two years of the Q!'s existence, organizers have also come under harassment from fundamentalist groups. "We received death threats, and there were rumors that the cinemas where films were to be screened would be burned down," said festival director John Badalu. The team pressed on and the first two festivals proceeded without incident.
Glad to be gay in Indonesia
Asia Times, September 23, 2010

Muslims protest gay-themed movie, claiming it has been "destroying the morale of Indonesian people" and is "not in accordance with the teachings of Islam"

The screening of the film `The screening of Elvis & Madonna` scheduled for today (Tuesday, 9/27) at 7.30 pm at Goethe Haus on Jl Sam Ratulangi, Menteng, Central Jakarta, has drawn rejection from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). The gay-themed movie is considered detrimental to morale and not in accordance with the teachings of Islam as it includes deviant behaviors.

"We clearly refuse the screening of the movie, because it has been destroying the morale of Indonesian people," said Jakarta FPI Chairman Salim Alatas during a rally in front of the Goethe Haus, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday (9/28).

Around 100 FPI members staged the protest since at 11.30 am. They asked for film festivals that play the film to be stopped within 1x24 hours.
FPI Rejects Screening of Gay-Themed Movie
BeritaJakarta, September 28, 2010

Government minister and member of the AIDS commission posts anti-gay comments and jokes about AIDS

Tifatul Sembiring, who is Indonesia's information minister and also a member of the National Aids commission, jumped into a debate about a gay film festival being held in Jakarta, which was protested by Islamic hardliners and students.

"Behaviours which are potentially carrying the virus must be prevented," he tweeted last week, adding that even the Koran had things to say about homosexuals: "God turned the earth upside down" and "rained them with stones from the burned land."

In his most controversial comment, however, he recalled a former health minister's joke about Aids.

"Aids – Akibat Itunya Dipakai Sembarangan," which translates as "because they were reckless about where they put their genitals."

He later said he did not mean to offend anyone, adding: "But everyone has the right to voice their opinion."

Religious police forces lesbian couple apart and put them under 'surveillance', threatening them with beheading. "They must be beheaded and burned... We are actually allowed by our religion to kill them"

Indonesian religious police said on Thursday they had forced a lesbian couple to separate and placed them under surveillance, even though homosexuality is legal in the mainly Muslim country.

The Islamic police force unique to Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, warned the couple before they were forcibly separated that under Islamic law they could be beheaded.

"We told them that they must be beheaded and burned and their ashes must be thrown away to the sea. We are actually allowed by our religion to kill them," Southwest Aceh district religious police chief Muddatsir said.

Ranto, 26, and Nuraini, 18, now live in separate villages 36km apart, he said.

"We're monitoring them closely," he added.

A village chief has issued the couple an unofficial religious marriage contract in the mistaken belief that Ranto was a man, Muddatsir said.

"It's disgraceful what they've done. Even animals search for the opposite sex," the district religious police chief said.

The provincial parliament passed Islamic laws authorising the stoning to death of adulterers and the flogging of homosexuals in 2009 but the governor has not signed them into effect.

Liberals in the country of 240 million people say Aceh's sharia laws nevertheless encourage vigilantism and intolerance and are a flagrant breach of the constitution.
Indonesia forces lesbian couple apart
BigPondNews, August 25, 2011

Highest Islamic body says transgenders "have to accept their fate to be ridiculed and harassed." Indonesia's National Commission for Human Rights receives 1,000 reports of abuses per year, ranging from murder to rape

when transgenders act in TV comedies, they are invariably the brunt of the joke. They have taken a much lower profile in recent years, following a series of attacks by Muslim hard-liners. And the country's highest Islamic body has decreed that they are required to live as they were born because each gender has obligations to fulfill, such as reproduction.

"They must learn to accept their nature," says Ichwan Syam, a prominent Muslim cleric at the influential Indonesian Ulema Council. "If they are not willing to cure themselves medically and religiously" they have "to accept their fate to be ridiculed and harassed."
. . .

The threat of violence is very real: Indonesia's National Commission for Human Rights receives about 1,000 reports of abuses per year, ranging from murder and rape to the disruption to group activities. Worldwide, at least one person is killed every other day, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, which collects homicide reports.
Barack Obama's transgender ex-nanny an outcast
Associated Press, March 5, 2012

Police forcibly cancel speaking event by Lesbian activist, saying her "mission to promote homosexuality" among Muslims threatened public order after hundreds of Muslims congregated outside demanding an end to it

The police on Saturday defended its forced canceling of a speaking event in Jakarta featuring liberal Canadian Muslim activist Irshad Manji, saying her alleged mission to promote homosexuality among Indonesian Muslims threatened the public order.

Manji was in Jakarta to attend the launch of her new book, “Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom,” at the Salihara cultural center in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, on Friday evening.

She had only spoken for about 15 minutes when the police interrupted her, announcing that the event should be called off because hundreds of members and supporters of hardline Muslim group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had congregated outside the building and demanded an end to the event.

Manji was escorted out of Salihara under heavy police guard.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said Salihara had breached a regulation by failing to report to the police when it planned to feature Manji as a speaker in the forum.

“There have been rejections from the local neighborhood and community units as well as an organization [FPI] against the book discussion. The locals urged that the event be ended because it discussed a sensitive issue,” Rikwanto said in Jakarta on Saturday.

“Besides, Irshad Manji is a lesbian activist and she was going to talk about a book that will offend what the majority of Muslims believe. We saw a potential for a public order disruption,” he added.

Salihara co-founder Goenawan Mohamad said he regretted the incident and called it a violation of the freedoms of speech and of peaceful assembly.

“The accusation that Irshad is trying to spread a misleading idea on lesbianism and gays is slander,” Goenawan said.
Jakarta Police Defend Quashing Visiting Canadian Muslim Activist's Speech
Bayu Marhaenjati & Ismira Lutfia, Jakarta Globe, May 5, 2012

Transgender festival in Jakarta canceled after the Islamic Defenders Front turn up to the event dressed in helmets and armed with sticks demanding the organizers shut it down

A transgender festival in Jakarta was cancelled on Monday night, after the Islamic Defenders Front turned up to the event and demanded the organizers shut it down.

Salim Alatas, chief patron of the Jakarta chapter of the organization, known as the FPI, told the Jakarta Globe that the festival organizer for the Miss Waria contest in Pasar Festival, South Jakarta, did not have a permit from the police.

“The local community did not want the contest to be held in their area. They asked the police if there is a permit for the contest, but there is not,” said Salim, who discovered the event from a newspaper. “We will deny if there is such thing as a transgender contest in our country. It’s morally destructive and not educating.”

South Jakarta’s Setiabudi Police precinct head AKBP Lalu Muhammad Iwan confirmed that the police did not issue a permit for the event.

Merlyn Sofyan, the initiator of the festival, denied the event was a transgender pageant contest.

“It’s called Festival Waria Berbudaya [Cultural Transgender Festival], not a pageant where contestants are judged by their looks,” Merlyn told the Jakarta Globe. “Festival Waria Berbudaya is an attempt to answer the wrong perceptions in our community by producing decent human resources of waria. It’s not going to be instant, but we’re trying to nurture them.”

But Salim insisted that such an event would not be tolerated, whatever the reason was.

“These warias are supposed to be taught and guided, not paraded around like this,” Salim argued, who added that the FPI were unarmed and showed up at the event in peace.

However, Agnes Hening, a festival attendant, claimed that the FPI members wore helmets and brought sticks to dismiss the event.
FPI Shuts Down Transgender Festival in Jakarta
Abdul Qowi Bastian, Jakarta Globe, December 4, 2012

"We reject homosexuals here, so last week we raided their house," married couple chased from their village after neighbors discover they are lesbians

Two women who married in Indonesia by disguising themselves as a heterosexual couple were chased away from their village after neighbours discovered they were lesbians, community members said.

Neighbours raided the couple's home on Batam island near Singapore after growing suspicious that Musdalifa was a woman because he never socialised with other men in the village and the couple always kept to themselves.

"We reject homosexuals here, so last week we raided their house and saw Musdalifa was obviously a woman. She'd been walking around in loose men's clothes," Marlina, 34, told AFP Wednesday.

"We told Musdalifa to leave. They both fled and we haven't seen them since," said Marlina, who goes by one name.

It was discovered that Musdalifa was really a 23-year-old woman named Angga Soetjipto, who married her girlfriend Ninies Ramiluningtyas, 41, earlier this month.

The locals complained to the local Religious Affairs Office, which administers marriages and has reported the case to the Religious Affairs Ministry.

"There was no way we could have known, because they both had all the right documents, including a letter of identification from the village," office head Budi Dharmawan said.

He said the office would consider intensifying customary pre-marriage counselling to ensure illegal marriages do not slip through the net again.

Homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, though gay marriage is outlawed.

Although the majority of Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam, the country's sharia stronghold Aceh province has deliberated flogging homosexuals and has forced gay and lesbian couples to separate.

Homosexuals living in Aceh province will be publicly lashed 100 times under proposed bylaw backed by capital’s deputy governor

Homosexual men and women living in Indonesia’s strictly conservative Aceh province would be publicly lashed 100 times under a proposed bylaw backed by the provincial capital’s deputy governor.

Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal called homosexuality “a social disease that should be eradicated,” as she pushed for harsher bylaws against sexual behavior that runs counter to the region’s adherence to Islamic Shariah Law.

The Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) is discussing proposed changes to the province’s bylaws, including a bylaw criminalizing homosexuality. The proposed bylaw received the support of the deputy mayor, who bemoaned the fact that police were unable to punish same-sex couples under current regulations.

“There is no law that could be used to charge them,” Illiza said. “The existing [regulations] only stipulate about khalwat [being in close proximity] for intimate relations between unmarried males and females.”

Banda Aceh’s Shariah Police have struggled to crack down on same-sex relationships, Illiza said. Couples meet in rented rooms and pursue relationships under a veil of secrecy, she said.

The deputy mayor said she was prompted to action by a 2012 survey on at-risk communities and HIV/AIDS transmission rates in Aceh. Illiza told the Jakarta Globe she didn’t remember the specifics of the survey’s findings, but was concerned that some respondents told surveyors they were gay.

“If we ignore it, it will be like an iceberg,” Illiza said. “Even if one case of homosexuality found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah.”...

Indonesia is one of the least tolerant countries in the world regarding homosexuality, 93% say gays should not be accepted. Unlike other countries, attitudes are not changing with the younger generation

The “Global Divide on Homosexuality” study surveyed 37, 653 people in 39 countries. It found Indonesians were overwhelming opposed to homosexuality, with 93 percent saying that gay people should not be accepted.

While Muslim countries were found to be overwhelmingly opposed to homosexuality, Indonesia was more resistant to same-sex relationships than both Malaysia and Pakistan — two countries that prohibit same-sex practices by law.

The survey conducted 1,000 face-to-face interviews with Indonesian adults, giving a margin for error of 4 percent, broadly in line with both surveys for Malaysia and Pakistan.

In addition, attitudes do not appear to be changing in the archipelago. Only 3 percent of Indonesians claimed to be supportive of gay rights in the last Pew survey in 2007.

People in predominately Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan along with Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelming said gay men and lesbians should be rejected from society at large, the Pew Research Center found.
. . .

Younger generations were also “consistently more likely than older ones to say homosexuality should be accepted by society” even in countries that overall are more supportive of gays, Pew said.

For example, 54 percent of all Japanese polled offered support. But 83 percent of those younger than 30 said they accepted gays compared to about 40 percent of those 50 and older. In the United States, 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds supported gays compared with 52 percent of those ages 50 and older. In Indonesia, the findings were less conclusive, with 4 percent of those under 30 supportive of gays, which was the case for only 2 percent of respondents aged 30-49.