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Regional authorities in Indonesia persecuting LGBTI residents ahead of elections

Regional authorities in Indonesia persecuting LGBTI residents ahead of elections

An anti-LGBTI rally in Bogor last week (Photo: Facebook)

Regional authorities in Indonesia are planning a slew of anti-LGBTI regulations ahead of elections next year.

Indonesia’s LGBTI population is often used as political fodder in the Muslim-majority country. Government-led anti-LGBTI hysteria has exploded since the beginning of 2016.

Now, Payakumbuh, the second-largest city in West Sumatra, is planning to revise a 2016 bylaw on social ills. It wants to ban LGBTI activists to prevent ‘deviant behavior’ from spreading, according to the Jakarta Post.

Furthermore, West Sumatra Deputy Governor, Nasrul Abit, called on villages to punish LGBTI residents.

His suggestions included parading suspected LGBTI individuals or forcing them to pay fines, the newspaper reports.

Meanwhile, in East Kotawaringin regency, Central Kalimantan, the local government is also drafting anti-LGBTI bylaws.

East Kotawaringin Regent Supian Hadi said he believed homosexuality was an ‘infectious disease and against religious norms’, according to the Post.

‘Dangers of LGBT’

Cianjur regency in West Java, on the other hand, last month sent a circular to the region’s mosques.

The regional government urged mosques to conduct sermons on ‘The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse’.

Last week, thousands of anti-LGBTI protesters marched on the Mayor’s Office in Bogor, south of the capital, Jarkata.

They urged the mayor to ban LGBTI people from the city.

‘LGBT is very contagious and dangerous for the nation’s generations’ one of the organizers reportedly said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last month warned last month that it had reviewed anti-LGBTI legislation throughout West Java.

Potential policies include forming official lists of allegedly LGBTI individuals, according to HRW.

Officials also proposed teaching falsehoods about LGBTI people in schools. And subjecting LGBTI people to ‘conversion therapy’ to alter sexual orientation or gender identity. They also proposed censoring LGBTI-related speech to counter the ‘LGBTI threat’.

Community under threat

In the last three years, government officials have called for criminalizing gay sex and censoring LGBTI content in the media. They have also suggested ‘curing’ LGBTI individuals.

What’s more, police have raided saunas, nightclubs, hotels, and private homes.

In 2017, Indonesia charged more than 300 LGBTI people under the country’s vague ‘pornography’ laws.

Indonesian officials at all levels need to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination’ said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at HRW.