The mayor of a city in Indonesia says he is using the military to hunt down LGBTI people and subject them to conversion therapy.
Mahyeldi Ansharullah, mayor of Padang in the province of West Sumatra, is using the military (TNI) to search for and arrest LGBTI people.
When found, the victims are then ‘coached’ by the TNI.
Speaking in Central Jakarta on Tuesday (21 January), Ansharullah told Tirto: ‘We are coaching them with the the TNI. Those [caught in] the operations that we have conducted, we develop and train them, we cultivate their nationalism, we develop their identity.’
Ansharullah also claims he is using the help of ulema – Islamic scholars – in order to perform ‘ruqyah’ – a form of exorcism – on the individuals. This stems from the belief that the existence of LGBTI people is caused by ‘jinns’ (genies or demons).
‘We also involve the ulema, because from the information we have received, the existence of LGBT or lesbians is because there is indeed the influence of jinns and demons, so we perform ruqyah to force them to leave,’ he added.
Increased anti-LGBTI hostility in Indonesia
Homosexuality is not currently illegal in most of Indonesia. In the province of Aceh, and for Muslims in the city of Palembang, it is illegal in Sharia Law. The punishment if caught is flogging.
There are no legal protections for LGBTI people.
This comes as Indonesian officials become increasingly hostile towards LGBTI people over the past year.
The city of Pariaman, on Sumatra island, passed a law fining LGBTI people for ‘disturbing public order‘.
Meanwhile, the city of Depok in West Java announced plans to create regulations to restrict the movement of LGBTI people. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said these plans are illegal.