Indonesian Constitutional Court judge Arief Hidayat has apologized to that country’s LGBT community after a gay activist wrote to him to tell him of his struggles as a gay Muslim living in Indonesia.
Hidayat had spoken out against the idea of same-sex marriage during a confirmation hearing in the Indonesian House of Representatives, which prompted LGBT rights activist Hartoyo, the secretary general of the group Ourvoice, to write an open letter to the judge.
Hartoyo told the judge of how he and his partner had been dragged from their home by a mob in 2007 and beaten before being dragged to a police station where they were verbally abused by six officers who then turned a hose on them.
Hartoyo wrote that his sexuality was innate and not something imported from Western cultures.
‘I have never been to any Western countries and I have fallen in love with men even before I understood what Indonesia and Islam were,’ Hartoyo wrote to Hidayat according to the Jakarta Globe.
‘I have been a homosexual even before I knew that homosexuality is considered to be a sin by many religious teachings.
‘If gay marriage is part of Western culture then how would you explain the fact that gay marriage is still disputed in Western countries, such as the United States, even today? Will those who are against gay marriage in those countries then argue that homosexuality is an Eastern, Southern or Northern reality?
‘History in fact proves that when western countries criminalized homosexuality, it was us who actually celebrated sexual diversity in our culture.’
Hidayat responded to Hartoyo’s letter after it was brought to his attention by David Mills, an openly gay Massachusetts judge, who urged him to respond to him.
Hidayat maintained that he believed that same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional and was offensive to religious sensibilities in Indonesia but apologized if he had caused any offense and stressed that LGBT people should be protected from violence.
‘I apologize if my opinion offended the gay community. I will ask for God’s forgiveness,’ Hidayat wrote in an email to Hartoyo.
‘As a citizen of the country, you and your community should be protected from violent acts.’