Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

Indonesian LGBT Community Comes Under Verbal Attacks from Officials and Extremists

by Saurav Jung Thapa March 03, 2016

LGBT people and communities in Indonesia have recently come under a series of unprecedented verbal attacks from top government officials, state institutions and extremists.

This series of verbal assaults began in January when the Minister for Education criticized a group providing counseling services for students. On February 15, Vice President Jusuf Kalla called on the United Nations to shut down its groundbreaking $8 million regional initiative, Being LGBTI in Asia. Two days later an umbrella organization of Muslim groups called for “banning LGBT [sexual] activities and other deviant types of sexual intercourse and prosecution of those involved in LGBT activities.”

On February 23, the Defense Minister called the LGBT movement a form of “proxy war” to undermine Indonesian sovereignty. The Minister for Women’s Empowerment condemned LGBT people for promoting a “deviant lifestyle.” On February 26, a former minister from an Islamist party said those committing “homosexual acts” should be put to death.

These harsh criticisms of LGBT people are surprising to many as they are occurring during the presidency of Joko Widodo, a politician with reformist credentials who was elected in July 2014.

Fortunately, there have also been voices supporting LGBT people in the cabinet. The Coordinating Minister for Security issued a statement saying LGBT people have a right to protection by the state and expressing regret that they had been victims of abuse.

“The government has shut down a slew of websites, ordered TV programs depicting gay lives off the air,” Asia One reported. “[The government] demanded all instant messaging apps remove same-sex emoticons - like men holding hands and the symbolic rainbow flag - or face a ban.”

Religious activists have rallied to denounce LGBT rights as a disease. Additionally, the Indonesian Psychiatrists Association defied established scientific consensus and changed its diagnostic guidelines and labeled gay and bisexual people as having psychiatric problems and transgender people as “mentally disordered.” A member of the Association claimed that being LGBT can be “healed through psychiatric treatment.” This would involve the discredited and dangerous practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” which the U.N. has declared to be tantamount to torture.

Last month, the Islamic Jihad Front pressured the local government of Yogyakarta to forcibly close a school for transgender women. According to Buzzfeed, many regarded the school as “a symbol of Indonesia’s religious pluralism.”

“Indonesian LGBT people are resilient and we will fight for our rights no matter what comes our way,” Indonesia’s best known LGBT activist Dede Oetomo, who started the country’s first LGBT rights group GAYa NUSANTARA in 1987, said. “We were engaged in human rights activism during the oppressive Suharto dictatorship and have undergone a lot worse.”

With 250 million people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has the world’s largest population of Muslims. A Pew Research Center study in 2013 indicated that 93 percent of Indonesians reject homosexuality, the highest figure among all Asian countries surveyed. Indonesia’s national laws do not criminalize same-sex relationships but the semi-autonomous province of Aceh, which is governed by Shariah law, subjects LGBT people to caning.
HRC will continue to closely monitor the situation in Indonesia as it develops. To learn more about LGBT rights and criminalization laws across the world, visit

Saurav Jung Thapa
Saurav Jung Thapa


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

Calum McSwiggan Pleads Not Guilty To Lying About Hate Crime Attack, “Devastated” Nobody Believes Him

by Graham Gremore September 27, 2016

It’s been a rough few months for YouTube star Calum McSwiggan. In June, the 26-year-old internet celebrity claimed he was the victim of a violent antigay hate crime outside the Abbey in West Hollywood that allegedly left him “with three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead.” “Last night was the worst night of my life [...]

Continue Reading →

WATCH: Katy Perry Votes Naked, Gets Arrested

by matt baume September 27, 2016

Mastermind Katy Perry’s plot has been successful! Yesterday she tweeted that she was going to use her body as click bait to change the world. And today she has made good on that threat, with a nude video about voting. Will it actually change the world? That remains to be seen. (Spoiler: no.) “This year, you can look [...]

Continue Reading →

Whole Foods Supervisor Who Said “Only Gay People Wear Crocs” Faces Discrimination Suit

by Derek de Koff September 27, 2016

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, a Whole Foods employee in Boulder, Colorado feels she faced ongoing discrimination due to her sexual orientation — all at the hands of a supervisor who made fun of her clothing, her Crocs in particular. “She told me that I looked ‘unfuckable,'” Jennifer Johnston tells CBS4. “And that only [...]

Continue Reading →