Indonesia’s Human Rights Commission last week said that plans to ban LGBT people were lawful.
It comes amid a frightening crackdown on LGBTI people across the Muslim-majority country as it heads for elections later this year.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chairman said human rights violations depends heavily on cultural context, according to Coconuts.
‘The people of West Sumatra have a culture that can’t be separated from Islam. This has been the case since a long time ago’ Komnas HAM Chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik reportedly said.
‘If the people and government here create a regulation that bans LGBT behavior because it’s not in line with tradition, then it’s not wrong nor is it a violation of human rights’.
‘What must also be known is that human rights are not absolute,’ he also reportedly said.
The chairman also urged outsiders not to criticize West Sumatra’s stance on LGBTI rights.
West Sumatra politicians are working to pass a regional regulation to ban LGBT people. It labels homosexuality ‘deviant sexual behavior’.
Indonesia’s LGBTI crackdown
Gay sex is not a crime in Indonesia, except for conservative Aceh Province where Islamic law applies.
But, local administrations, particularly in West Sumatra, have been enacting regional laws to persecute the minority.
Rising Islamic fundamentalism has led to a crackdown on the community.
Since 2016, authorities have been using blasphemy, pornography and public nuisance laws to arrest LGBTI Indonesians
There are no legal protections for LGBTI people.
What’s more, local administrations have also been introducing their own legislation to target the population.
Last month, the mayor of Pandang in West Sumatra, said he was using the military to hunt down LGBTI people and subject them to conversion therapy.
The military then ‘coaches’ victims.
Last week, Indonesia’s communications ministry threatened to shut down Instagram in the country following uproar over a page publishing gay Muslim cartoons.