Islamic exorcisms of LGBTI Indonesians are on the rise in Indonesia.
Known as ruqyah, the practice uses prayers and, at times, physical torture to drive out evil spirits. Medical experts denounce conversion therapies because they cause serious psychological damage.
Dede Oetomo of LGBTI organization GAYa Nusantara said he had received increasing reports of people being forced to undergo conversion therapy.
‘These people finally come to LGBTI organizations like mine for peer counseling and support’ after the experience, he said.
Indonesia is cracking down on its LGBTI population. Regional governments are planning to fine LGBTI residents. There has also been mass demonstrations and attacks against LGBTI Indonesians.
Worryingly, people often upload ruqyah videos to YouTube. A mainstream national television channel, Trans 7, even showed the ruqyah of a gay man.
What’s more, conversion therapies have been endorsed by the government.
Regional leaders in East Java and West Sumatra are considering ruqyah programs for their LGBTI populations, according to Oetomo.
Dina Listiorini, who is researching the LGBTI crackdown at the University of Indonesia, said ruqyah sometimes take place in Islamic boarding schools.
Citing testimony from LGBTI people, Listiorini told Gay Star News ruqyah can take a number of forms.
In some cases, religious leaders or family members feed LGBTI people ash from paper with verses from the Quran.
Other times, leaders force them to take cold baths before conducting Islamic rituals.
‘Religious leaders believe with reading some verses from Holy Quran, they can omit the evil as the cause of people being gay or lesbian or trans’ she said.
In some cases, family members or religious leaders rape suspected lesbians to ‘correct’ them, Listiorini said.
Local media reported religious leaders also hit suspected LGBTI people with sticks during ruqyah.
‘Sexuality is not something wrong that is caused by evil’ said Listiorini. ‘The processes cause pain, hurt and violate the humanity’.
Anti-LGBTI rhetoric from leaders, local legislation, and attacks on the community have all increased in the run-up to elections next year. Dozens of men attacked two transgender women in Bekasi, West Java last month. Police also hosed down three trans women.
‘This seems to be a result of the homo- and transphobic wave currently spreading in Indonesia’ LGBTI activist Dede Oestomo told Gay Star News.