Politicians speak out against LGBT candidates for Indonesian human rights commission

Islamic communities will not accept LGBT candidates, say politicians

Politicians speak out against LGBT candidates for Indonesian human rights commission
19 March 2012

Politicians in Indonesia have again expressed their opposition to two LGBT candidates currently competing to serve on Indonesia's human rights commission, Komnas HAM.

‘We haven’t heard about any activities that the two candidates have done for human rights issues. On the other hand, our society has yet to accept the existence of the LGBT community. The political authority of Komnas HAM could be put in jeopardy if members of this community are selected for the commissioner post,’ Aboebakar Alhabsyi, from the Prosperous Justice Party, told The Jakarta Post.

Dede Oetomo and Yulianus Rettoblaut, who are through to the third round of the selection process to serve the body protecting human rights in Indonesia, have both campaigned extensively for the rights of gay and transgender people respectively.

Oetomo has campaigned for the rights of gay people in Indonesia since 1982, when he returned to the country after completing a PhD at Cornell University in the US. He started Indonesia's first LGBT rights organisation in 1987 and he is a member of the Centre for Minority, Gender and Human Rights in Indonesia.

Rettoblaut is head of the Communication Forum of Indonesia Transgender and holds a law degree. Last year she protested about violence against transgender people from public officials.

The negative attitude of the politicians does not bode well for Oetomo and Rettoblaut as the next stage of the selection process is scrutiny in Indonesia’s House of Representatives Commission III into legal affairs.

Another politician, Ahmad Yani said that many of the supporters of Indonesia’s many Islamic parties would not accept gay or transgender commissioners. ‘In reality, members of Islamic communities still have a problem in accepting the LGBTs. However, we will try to be as objective as we can,’ he said.

Eva Kusuma Sundari of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle urged fellow politicians to 'focus on the competency of the candidates' rather than 'stereotyping'. 

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