Ed­i­to­rial: Per­se­cut­ing sex­ual mi­nori­ties in In­done­sia

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News -

IN­DONE­SIA is cam­paign­ing for a non-per­ma­nent seat on the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for 2019-2020, boast­ing its track record that in­cludes rank­ing as the ninth largest con­trib­u­tor of se­cu­rity per­son­nel to world peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions.

Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo re­peated his of­fer to as­sist Afghanistan dur­ing his visit there on Mon­day, right af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing at­tack that killed over 100 civil­ians. In­done­sia has also con­tin­ued to do what it can to re­lieve the plight of the Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity in Myan­mar.

But in North Aceh, law en­forcers rounded up 12 trans­gen­der women last week­end, dragged them to the lo­cal po­lice head­quar­ters, shaved their heads, made them wear men’s cloth­ing and had them run around while shout­ing as part of their “train­ing” to be­come real men.

So while we raise sol­i­dar­ity for the Ro­hingya and fight for the cov­eted UN seat, our mi­nori­ties may join Myan­mar’s Mus­lims in flee­ing for asy­lum from the largest Mus­lim pop­u­lated coun­try. Th­ese in­clude mi­nori­ties with gender iden­ti­ties and ex­pres­sions out­side the com­mon male or fe­male cat­e­gories – the com­mu­nity of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) peo­ple.

Not all UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­bers are an­gels when it comes to their sex­ual mi­nori­ties. Yet In­done­sia holds it­self to lofty stan­dards as a can­di­date for the po­si­tion. So, are we go­ing to bawl about “par­tic­u­lar” hu­man rights while we have rat­i­fied UN con­ven­tions on hu­man rights?

In­deed, gen­uine de­sires to ad­here to Is­lam and avoid sin con­trib­uted to the by­law on the Crim­i­nal Code that bans ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in Aceh, the only prov­ince al­lowed to ap­ply sharia, though on ques­tion­able in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Such as­pi­ra­tions have reached the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where law­mak­ers are re­port­edly fi­nal­is­ing the draft to the re­vised Crim­i­nal Code which would in­clude crim­i­nal­is­ing all ex­tra-mar­i­tal re­la­tions and con­sen­sual same-sex re­la­tions – never mind how law en­forcers would stalk bed­rooms.

There­fore, sex­ual mi­nori­ties are in­creas­ingly un­der threat from per­se­cu­tion by those claim­ing to up­hold moral­ity and re­li­gion. Re­strict­ing stig­ma­tised groups is an easy votewin­ner ahead of lo­cal and na­tional elec­tions. But as­pir­ing for sig­nif­i­cant UN re­spon­si­bil­i­ties while per­se­cut­ing LGBT peo­ple is an af­front to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The ugly facts on the ground se­verely chal­lenge our diplo­mats striv­ing to cam­paign for In­done­sia to be recog­nised as the world’s “part­ner for peace, se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity.” – Jakarta Post via Kyodo

An In­done­sian po­lice of­fi­cer es­corts two men accused of hav­ing gay sex to a hold­ing cell to wait for their trial in Shariah Court in Banda Aceh, In­done­sia, in 2017. Photo: AP

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