Indonesia Government: There’s “No Room” For Gay Rights

"There is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement."

In response to a new report from the Human Rights Watch, which criticizes the South East Asian country’s horrifying treatment of its LGBT community, a spokesperson for Indonesian President Joko Widodo said there is “no room” in the nation for LGBT equality.

He added, “Rights of citizens like going to school and getting an ID card are protected, but there is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement.”

TOPSHOT - In this photo taken on February 23, 2016 shows anti-LGBT Muslim group marching to blockade pro-LGBT protesters in Yogyakarta, in Java island. The small gay community in conservative, Muslim-majority Indonesia is facing a sudden and unexpected backlash, with ministers and religious leaders denouncing homosexuality, LGBT websites blocked and emboldened hardliners launching anti-gay raids. AFP PHOTO / Suryo WIBOWO / AFP / SURYO WIBOWO        (Photo credit should read SURYO WIBOWO/AFP/Getty Images)
Suryo Wibowo

Though Indonesia’s LGBT community has long faced violence at the hands of Islamist vigilantes, they were dealt a swift blow earlier this year in what HRW is describing as an “immediate deterioration of their rights.”

The blow came in the form of a “sustained assault” against the gay population led by government ministers, conservative religious leaders and influential Islamic organizations all within a two-month time frame at the beginning of 2016.

The onslaught of vitriol was the first time in the country’s history that top officials had specifically targeted the LGBT community and the results have been terrifying for its members. In addition to urging universities to reject gay individuals from their campuses, some opponents have likened the LGBT rights movement to a “type of modern warfare.”

The worst threat, however, came from a group of Islamic activists who filed a judicial review with the constitutional court aimed at making gay sex a crime. The measure encountered little backlash and is now being reviewed by the court.

Indonesian Muslim protestors of Muslim organization 'Hizbuth Tahrir' hold a banner reading, 'Forbidden, Crime and Disgusting' refering to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual associations during a protest against an eventual meeting on the issue in Surabaya on March 26, 2010. Indonesian police said on March 24, they will not issue a permit for an international gay and transgender group to convene a regional conference because of fears it could incite unrest. The international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex association (ILGA) was scheduled to meet from 26 - 28 March in the world's most populous Muslim country. AFP PHOTO / MUHAMMAD RISYAL HIDAYAT (Photo credit should read MUHAMMAD RISYAL HIDAYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
MUHAMMAD RISYAL HIDAYAT/AFP/Getty Images

In their report, the HRW writes, “What began as public condemnation quickly grew into calls for criminalization and ‘cures’, laying bare the depth and breadth of officials’ individual prejudices.”

In addition to the legal and cultural ramifications of the homophobic bombast, it has also, unsurprisingly, inspired a dramatic increase in attacks against LGBT individuals. The violence has been so immense that gay-rights organizations have been forced to shutter their windows and hide their staff for fear of losing their lives.

“The impact of anti-LGBT rhetoric from government officials is enormous for us as individuals. For those of us who have worked so hard and risked so much to come out, it is a major step backward,” a lesbian activist in eastern Indonesia told HRW.

h/t: The Guardian

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