LGBT rights in Indonesia
|LGBT rights in Indonesia|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal nationwide, except the provinces of Aceh and the city of Palembang in South Sumatra. (applies only to Muslims)|
|Gender identity/expression||Transsexuals are allowed to change their sex with several conditions|
|No recognition of same-sex couples|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia face legal challenges and prejudices not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Traditional mores disapprove of homosexuality and cross-dressing, which impacts public policy. For example, Indonesian same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for any of the legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples. Indonesia does not have a sodomy law and Indonesia does not currently criminalize private, non-commercial homosexual acts among consenting adults, yet Indonesian law does not protect LGBT community against discrimination and hate crimes. Currently, Indonesia does not recognize same-sex marriage. In July 2015, Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister stated that it is unacceptable in Indonesia, because strongly held religious norms speak strongly against it. The importance in Indonesia for social harmony leads to duties rather than rights to be emphasized, which means that human rights along with LGBT rights are very fragile. Yet, the LGBT community in Indonesia has steadily become more visible and politically active.
LGBT people in Indonesia are facing growing hostility and intolerance. In early 2016, LGBT people and activists in Indonesia faced fierce opposition, homophobic attacks, and hate speech, even launched by Indonesian authorities. In February 2016, Human Rights Watch urged the Indonesian government to defend the rights of LGBT people and publicly condemn officials' discriminatory remarks.
Coming out to family and friends is seldom carried out by LGBT people in Indonesia, as they are afraid of rejection and social backlash. Nevertheless, there are some rare examples of understanding and acceptance of the family of LGBT persons.
In 2017, two young gay men (aged 20 and 23) were sentenced to being caned in front of public in the Aceh province, and 141 men were arrested for a "gay sex party" in the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta.
- 1 Legal status
- 2 LGBT rights movement in Indonesia
- 3 Opposition to the LGBT rights movement
- 4 Gender identity/expression
- 5 Recognition of same-sex relationships
- 6 Adoption and family planning
- 7 Civil rights protections
- 8 LGBT in the media
- 9 Political party opinions
- 10 Living conditions
- 11 Summary table
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
Currently, unlike neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia does not specifically have a sodomy law. The national criminal code does not prohibit private, non-commercial homosexual relations between consenting adults. A national bill to criminalise homosexuality, along with cohabitation, adultery and the practice of witchcraft, failed to be enacted in 2003 and no subsequent bill has been reintroduced.
Indonesia allows its provincial governments to establish certain Islamic-based laws, such as criminal sanctions for homosexuality. These local penalties exist in Aceh and South Sumatra provinces, where bylaws against LGBT rights have been passed. The bylaws criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). These sharia-based criminal codes permit as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sex acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes. In May 2017, two gay men, aged 20 and 23, in the Aceh province were each sentenced to a public caning of 85 lashes for having sex.
While Indonesia has allowed private and consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex since 1993, it has a higher age of consent for same-sex relations than for heterosexual relations (17 for heterosexuals and 18 for homosexuals).
The Constitution does not explicitly address sexual orientation or gender identity. It does guarantee all citizens various legal rights, including equality before the law, equal opportunity, humane treatment in the workplace, religious freedom, freedom of opinion, peaceful assembly, and association. Such legal rights are all expressly limited by the laws designed to protect public order and religious morality.
While homosexuality itself is legal, the government has taken certain steps to censor films and other media content that is deemed to be "promoting" homosexuality. In 2016, the government announced plans to ban several LGBT websites and computer applications.
Call for discrimination and criminalisation
The strongest opposition against the recognition of LGBT rights in Indonesia has come from religious authorities and pressure-groups, especially Islamic organisations. Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia or MUI) has made a statement, which stigmatised the LGBT population by declaring them "deviant" and an affront to the "dignity of Indonesia."
In 2002, the Indonesian Government gave Aceh Province the right to introduce Sharia Law, albeit only to Muslim residents. The northernmost province of Aceh proceeded to enact a sharia-based anti-homosexuality law that punishes anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes. The law was set for enforcement by the end of 2015. Another example is the city of Palembang which introduced jail and fines for homosexual sex. Under the law homosexuality is defined as an act of "prostitution that violates the norms of common decency, religion, and legal norms as they apply to societal rule." The following acts are defined as acts of prostitution: homosexual sex, lesbians, sodomy, sexual harassment, and other pornographic acts. Fifty-two regions have since enacted Sharia-based law from the Qur'an, which criminalises homosexuality.
In March 2015, Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia or MUI) issued fatwa, or religious edict, called for same-sex acts to be punished by caning, and in some instances, the death penalty. The fatwa considers homosexuality a curable disease and says homosexual acts "must be heavily punished."
Indonesian People's Representative Council (DPR) has dismissed that the death penalty law against same-sex acts would be passed, citing that it is quite impossible to implement that policy in Indonesia. The DPR said that the MUI fatwa is only served as a moral guidance for its adherent, not as positive law with legal power that only possessed by the state.
In the wake of surging anti-LGBT sentiments started in early 2016, in March 2016, Islamist parties like Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and United Development Party (PPP), have proposed an anti LGBT bill to ban LGBT rights activism, and criminalise LGBT behaviour. Various politicians have made statements against the LGBT community in recent months.
In late November 2016, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) tipped off police in Jakarta that there was a "sex party". The police then raided the gay gathering, charging the men with violating the national law against pornography, which are very broadly written.
On 21 May 2017, police detained 144 people in a raid on a gay sauna, Atlantis Gym Jakarta. The Indonesian Ulema Council made a statement that this kind of activity in gay sauna is blasphemy against religion and an insult against Indonesian culture. "What kind of logic that able to accept this kind of sexual deviation, even animals are not gay. This is clearly not about equality," as stated by Head of Law Department of MUI. Unbeknownst to him that homosexuality in animals is very common. Earlier in the same month, 14 men were arrested at a "gay party" in Surabaya.
LGBT rights movement in Indonesia
In 1982 the first gay rights interest group was established in Indonesia. The "Lambda Indonesia" and other similar organisations arose in the late 1980s and 1990s. Today, some of the major LGBT associations in the nation include "Gaya Nusantara" and "Arus Pelangi".
The gay and lesbian movement in Indonesia is one of the oldest and largest in Southeast Asia. Lambda Indonesia activities included organising social gatherings, consciousness-raising and created a newsletter, but the group dissolved in the 1990s. Gaya Nusantara is a gay rights group which focuses on homosexual issues such as AIDS. Another group is the Yayasan Srikandi Sejati, which was founded in 1998. Their main focus is health issues pertaining to transgender people and their work includes providing HIV/AIDS counselling and free condoms to transgender sex workers at a free health clinic. There are now over thirty LGBT groups in Indonesia.
Yogyakarta, Indonesia, hosted a 2006 summit on LGBT rights that produced the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. However, a summit in March 2010 in Surabaya was met with condemnation from the Indonesian Ulema Council and was disrupted by conservative protesters.
By 2015, the victory of LGBT rights movement in Western countries has its significant implications in Indonesia. As numbers influential Western countries like European nations and the United States legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, the LGBT rights issue has caught the attention and awareness of general public in Indonesia and generates public discourse. The popular opinion split into several stances, and the reaction mainly was not positive. The right-wing elements in Indonesian politics, especially religious-based political parties and organization has publicly condemned LGBT rights. Some argued that currently Indonesia is under the threat of global LGBT "propaganda", which promotes an "LGBT lifestyle". The same-sex marriage or civil union became the main issue discussed on public regarding LGBT rights, although LGBT activist argued that currently they do not fight for marriage equality, but just seek for fundamental human rights of security, freedom from fear and freedom to assembly.
Legal guidelines regarding HIV/AIDS do not exist, although AIDS is a major problem in most countries in the region. Those infected with HIV travelling to Indonesia can be refused entry or threatened with quarantine. Due to the lack of sex education in Indonesian schools, there is little knowledge of the disease among the general population. Some organisations, however, do offer sex education – though they face open hostility from school authorities. In the beginning of the gay rights movement in Indonesia, LGBT organisations focused exclusively on health issues which led to the public believing that AIDS was a ‘gay disease’ and led to LGBT people being stigmatised.
Opposition to the LGBT rights movement
Traditionally Indonesians are quite tolerant towards LGBT people who keep quiet and stay discreet about their private lives. However, this level of tolerance is not extended towards LGBT rights movements, which has faced fierce condemnation in the public sphere from Indonesian authorities. The anti-LGBT rhetoric began in January 2016 when Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir said LGBT people should be barred from university campuses. The minister called for a ban on gay groups on university campuses, after a group of University of Indonesia (UI) students established a counseling and support group called the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC). The group was meant as a counseling service, resource center and support group on sexuality and gender issues, especially for LGBT youth and students, who often suffer from abuses, harassment, violence and discrimination regarding their gender and sexuality. SGRC sees LGBT person as human beings who need a friend and protection. The group, which sought to advocate for those who suffer from gender-based violence, explained that they do not "turn" or "encourage" people to be gay, nor had they tried to "cure" gay people. Amid the heat of the issue, the University of Indonesia refused to be held responsible for SGRC's actions and announced the group was not an officially registered student organization. Another official pressured smartphone instant-messaging services to drop gay and lesbian-themed emoji, prompting one company to comply.
Generally, religious authorities in Indonesia condemn homosexual acts and are fiercely against the LGBT rights movement. Strongest opposition has come from majority-Islamic groups, with Majelis Ulama Indonesia, the country's top Muslim clerical body, calling for criminalization of homosexuality. Other religious groups, such as Christianity and specifically Roman Catholicism, have expressed their rejection of LGBT rights in Indonesia. Indonesian Catholic authorities have reiterated that Catholicism does not recognize same-sex marriage but assured that, despite their perceived transgressions, LGBT people should be protected and not harmed.
The Indonesia Psychiatric Association (PDSKJI) classifies homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism as mental disorders. Referring to Law No.18/2014 on Mental Health and the association's Mental Health and Mental Disorder Diagnostic Guidelines, the PDSKJI categorizes homosexual and bisexual Indonesians as "people with psychiatric problems" and transgender people as having "mental disorders".
Some military figures have used conspiracy theory rhetoric. Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu called the LGBT movement a "proxy war" to brainwash Indonesians, and claimed that it received "foreign funding", pointing to funds from United Nations organizations like UNAIDS or Western governments and foundations.
There have been a few incidents of LGBT people being harassed. LGBT groups are now working to set up safehouses and draw up evacuation plans in case of need. In Yogyakarta, on February 2016, 23 LGBT activists were roughed up by police, who told local media they stopped them from holding a rally to avoid a clash with a hardline Muslim group holding an anti-LGBT protest nearby.
On the other hand, amid fierce hostilities, some officials—including Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan—have defended the LGBT community. "Whoever they are, wherever they work, he or she continues to be an Indonesian citizen. They have the right to be protected as well," Panjaitan said.
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The status of transvestite, transsexual or other transgender persons in Indonesia is complex. Cross-dressing is not, per se, illegal and some public tolerance is given to some transgender people working in beauty salons or in the entertainment industry, most notably the celebrity talk show host Dorce Gamalama. However, the law does not protect transgender people from discrimination or harassment and it also does not provide for gender reassignment surgery or allow transgender persons to gain new legal documents after they have made the transition.
Discrimination, harassment, even violence directed at transgender people is not uncommon. Transgender people who do not hide their gender identity often find it difficult to maintain legitimate employment and thus are often forced into prostitution and other illegal activities to survive.
The Islamic Indonesian Ulema Council ruled that transgender persons must live in the gender that they were born with. "If they are not willing to cure themselves medically and religiously", said a Council member, they must be willing "to accept their fate to be ridiculed and harassed."
In 2012, Yuli Retoblaut, a fifty-year-old transgender person and US President Barack Obama's nanny for two years, publicly applied to be the head of the nation's National Commission on Human Rights. The city of Yogyakarta has the only madrasa for transgender people in the world.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Adoption and family planning
Same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt a child in Indonesia. Only married couples consisting of a husband and a wife can adopt.
Civil rights protections
LGBT in the media
The Law Against Pornography and Pornoaction (2006) prohibits "…any writing or audio-visual presentation – including songs, poetry, films, paintings, and photographs that show or suggest sexual relations between persons of the same sex." Those in violation of the law could be fined or sentenced to prison for up to seven years. However, the media is now giving homosexuality more media coverage in Indonesia.
In February 2016, the public discourse and debates on homosexuality and LGBT issues has intensified with the occurrence of high-profile cases of alleged homosexual misconducts, involving Indonesian celebrities. First, an accusation of sexual approach and harassment done by TV personality Indra Bekti upon several men. Followed by the case of dangdut singer Saiful Jamil, who has been named a suspect in a sexual assault involving an underage male fan.
Until recently, the depiction of LGBT people are quite visible in Indonesian media, especially in television, with popular TV personalities, hosts, artist and celebrities with effeminate demeanors, or even cross dressers, are quite common in Indonesian television shows. However, after the alleged homosexual scandals involving Indonesian celebrities, in March 2016 the national broadcasting commission emphasize a policy banning TV and radio programs that make LGBT behavior appear "normal", saying this was to protect children and teenagers who are "susceptible to imitating deviant LGBT behaviors". This meant that broadcast companies, especially television stations, are discouraged from featuring effeminate figures, transgender people or cross-dressing in their programs, although such practices were previously quite common in Indonesian TV shows, especially TV variety shows and lawak (comedy) performances.
Political party opinions
Most of major political parties and politicians remain silent in the cause of LGBT rights. Islamist parties like PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) and PPP (United Development Party) speak strongly against LGBT rights, and went further to propose a national bill to criminalise LGBT. In March 2016, PKS and PPP have proposed an anti LGBT bill to ban LGBT activism, and criminalise LGBT rights and behaviour. PAN (National Mandate Party), despite sharing anti LGBT right sentiments with PKS and PPP however, has asked people not to discriminate and harassed LGBT community. But in return, urged LGBT people not to promote LGBT rights in Indonesia.
Currently, no political party in Indonesia has openly support LGBT right movement. However, on October 2016, the president Jokowi, stated that he is defending the LGBT rights, and that they should have the right to not be discriminated. Also, some politicians from the PDI-P (Party for the Indonesian Democracy Struggle) and the moderately conservative PKB (National Awakening Party) has sympathized the LGBT rights. PDI-P further stated that as a pluralist party, they can accept the existence of LGBT people. Despite holds that it is a deviant behaviour, PDI-P urge people to tolerate LGBT people and not extend hostile sentiments against them.
Indonesia contains the most Muslim people in the world with 87% of its citizens identifying themselves as Muslim. The family policy of the Indonesian authorities, the social pressure to marry and religion means that homosexuality is generally not supported. Both modernist and traditionalist Muslims as well also other religious groups such as Christians, especially Roman Catholics, generally oppose homosexuality. Many Islamic fundamentalist groups such as the FPI (the Front of Supporters of Islam) and the FBR (Betawi Council Forum) are openly hostile towards LGBT people by attacking the home or work of those they believe are a threat to the values of Islam.
Explicit discrimination and violent homophobia is carried out mainly by religious extremists, while subtle discrimination and marginalization occurs in daily life among friends, family, at work or school. LGBT people often suffer abuse by the hands of the police but it is hard to document due to victims refusing to give statements due to their sexuality. LGBT people are often arrested or charged due to their sexual orientation. Gays in jails are often sexually abused due to their sexual orientation, and often do not report it due to being traumatized and fear of being sent back to prison to suffer further abuse.
Indonesia does have a reputation as being a relatively moderate and tolerant Muslim nation, which does have some application to LGBT people. There are some LGBT people in the media and the national government has allowed a discreet LGBT community to exist, and sometimes organize public events. However, the conservative Islamic social mores tend to dominate within the broader society. Homosexuality and cross-dressing remain taboo and periodically LGBT people become the targets of local religious laws or fanatical vigilante groups.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal|| Partly legal nationwide, where homosexual activity with more than 2 people will be prosecuted under pornographic law (showing sexual activity to third party) according to UU 2008 issue 44 article 10 
Illegal in the provinces of Aceh and South Sumatra (applies only to Muslims)
|Equal age of consent|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Step-child adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- Homosexuality in Indonesia
- Politics of Indonesia
- LGBT rights in Asia
- Marind people, West Papuan tribe which practices traditional homosexual rituals
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