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Gay rights activist through to next stage of Indonesian human rights commission selection

Transgender candidate out, as list of candidates is down to 60
Dede Oetomo, proponent of gay rights in Indonesia since the 1980s

Indonesian gay rights activist Dede Oetomo is through to the next stage of the selection process for the Indonesian human rights commission, Komnas HAM.

After passing a physical exam, personality test and essay, Oetomo is one of 60 candidates through to the fourth stage of the long selection process.

Yulianus Rettoblaut, known as Mama Yuli, head of the Communication Forum of Indonesia Transgender, also applied to join Komnas HAM and made it through the first two stages, but not this latest.

Oetomo told Gay Star News that it is ‘unfortunate’ that Mama Yuli didn’t get through but he thinks the selection committee are being ‘fair’. ‘What’s interesting is that six of the incumbent commissioners re-nominated themselves and three didn’t make it,’ said Oetomo. ‘And an environmentalist, two human rights educators and myself, we all made it. I saw some good names some long time human rights defenders, but also some new names, so I guess they are being fair.’

Oetomo said he took a ‘risk’ writing his essay about sexual orientation and gender identity rights. ‘I did bring up very strongly the importance of protecting the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and I thought I was taking a risk but they apparently liked it,’ he said.

The next round of the process will filter the 60 candidates down to 30 through more personality tests, interviews with the selection committee and questions from the general public. ‘This is the first time I will meet with people who are not in the LGBTQI community who are not, you know, my people,’ said Oetomo. ‘It might be rabid fundamentalists, maybe not, but there is that possibility.’ The selection committee advertised for members of the public to meet the candidates and ask them questions.

Oetomo will learn if he has made it through to the final stage on 22 May. After that the remaining 30 candidates will be grilled by parliament and politicians will make the final recommendations for the 15 commissioners to serve Komnas HAM from 2012 to 2017. Oetomo says some politicians are sympathetic to LGBT rights.

If he makes it, Oetomo says the most urgent infringement of LGBT human rights, which he would like to tackle first as an Indonesian human rights commissioner, is police harassment of transgender women.'People are dying because of this,' he said.

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