Gay and trans activists still in running for Indonesian human rights commission

Anti-gay and trans sentiment casts doubt over Yulianus Rettoblaut and Dede Oetomo chances of Komnas HAM selection

Gay and trans activists still in running for Indonesian human rights commission
14 March 2012

Gay and transgender activists are still in the running for Komnas HAM, Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, despite hostile reaction to them.

The committee overseeing the selection process announced today (14 March) that gay activist Dede Oetomo and trans Yulianus 'Mami Yuli' Rettoblaut are among the 120 people through to the next round.

'The selection team considers both of them to be qualified despite the negative feedback that has been received,' selection committee chief Jimly Asshiddiqie told The Jakarta Post.

Oetomo and Rettoblaut hope to become one of the 15 people chosen by the country's House of Representatives to serve on the human rights commission from 2012 to 2017.

However, Asshiddiqie says he doesn't think the pair will pass the final tests, which include a profile assessment, public recommendation, psychological, health and essay writing exams, because of overwhelming anti-gay and trans sentiment from the majority of members in the House.

'Our society hasn’t accepted the LGBT community yet, thus Komnas HAM would also be in jeopardy if it accommodated LGBT communities with a commissioner,' said Aboebakar Alhabsyi, a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker.

Oetomo reacted by saying, 'These lawmakers will taint their own faces if they play around with their authority.'

Rettoblaut is head of the Communication Forum of Indonesia Transgender and holds a law degree. When she submitted her application for the commission, she said: 'Human rights cases implicating transgendered people have never been resolved. I hope that I can fill the position to solve those problems.'

Oetomo is an academic with a PhD from Cornell University in New York. He founded Lambda Indonesia later renamed Gaya Nusantara, the first LGBT rights organization in the country in 1981 and has stood, unsuccessfully, as a candidate in local elections.

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