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Students protest gay prospect for Indonesian human rights body

Islamic students group objects to veteran gay rights activist Dede Oetamo being considered for a role on the Indonesian human rights commission
Veteran Indonesian gay rights activist Dede Oetomo

A group of students protested in Banda Aceh, northwestern Indonesia, on Wednesday against the possibility gay rights activist Dede Oetamo could be appointed onto the country’s human rights commission (Komnas HAM).

Dozens of members of the Indonesian Muslim Students Front (KAMMI) protested.

One sign read ‘Aceh’s people refuse gay figures in Komnas HAM’. One protester said ‘We reject gay and other transgender community entering institutions like Komnas HAM, because it will mar the state’s integrity,' Tempo Interactive reports.

Oetamo told Gay Star News that he is not too concerned about the protests because he believes they represent ‘a loud minority within Indonesian Islam’. He said:

‘It makes me feel all the more serious about the need to educate society about the universality of human rights. In an odd way it makes me feel flattered.’

But Oetamo admitted ‘the students' counterparts in Parliament will certainly use the protest and other statements and petitions to argue that I should not be selected as one of the commissioners’.

Oetamo was told last June that he had successfully made it to the final 30 applicants competing for the 15 positions investigating human rights abuses in Indonesia.

In August the parliament extended the term of the current Komnas HAM commissioners to investigate serious human rights violations in 1965 and between 1982 and 1985.

Oetamo said he expects the final parliamentary test for appointing new Komnas HAM commissioners to be in October.  

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