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UN human rights commissioner warns Indonesia over crackdown on LGBTQ community

Meka Beresford February 7, 2018
Indonesian man escorted after public caning for having gay sex BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - MAY 23: An indonesian man escorted by the sharia police after get caning in public from an executor known as 'algojo' for having gay sex, which is against Sharia law at Syuhada mosque on May 23, 2017 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The two young gay men, aged 20 and 23, were caned 85 times each in the Indonesian province of Aceh during a public ceremony after being caught having sex last week. It was the first time gay men have been caned under Sharia law as gay sex is not illegal in most of Indonesia except for Aceh, which is the only province which exercises Islamic law. The punishment came a day after the police arrested 141 men at a sauna in the capital Jakarta on Monday due to suspicion of having a gay sex party, the latest crackdown on homosexuality in the country. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

(Ulet Ifansasti/Getty)

The UN human rights commissioner has warned Indonesia that it must stop its crackdown on the LGBTQ community and protect the minority from rising intolerance in the country.

Speaking in Jakarta, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that Indonesia had a progressive track record when it came to human rights, but that it’s failures to the LGBTQ community could be damaging.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

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He said: “The hateful rhetoric against this community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions.

“Indonesia has since 1998 managed to transition to democracy and couple it with strong economic growth.

“At a time when it is consolidating its democratic gains, we urge Indonesians to move forward – not backwards – on human rights.

“There are some dark clouds on the horizon but … I hope the common sense and strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism,” he added.

Al Hussein’s comments after the government carried out a number of raids and arrests on LGBTQ people.

GiveOut is aiming to eliminate the violence in countries where the LGBTQI community is not accepted (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

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Legislation is also being introduced in the country which would make it illegal to have same-sex relations and sex outside of marriage.

The proposed amendment to the penal code has been slammed by Al Hussein, who said that the “discriminatory provisions need to be removed”.

Currently, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia except for in the Aceh province, where Islamic law is enforced.

The bill, which reportedly has support from all 10 of the country’s main political parties, could pass in the next two weeks.

TAKENGON, INDONESIA: An Acehnese executor flogs a convicted woman in Takengon, in Indonesian central Aceh province, 19 August 2005 after an Islamic sharia court ordered four women to be flogged for petty gambling offences. The public lashing was the second since the Indonesian government allowed the western province to implement religious law as part of broader autonomy granted in 2001 to curb a separatist Islamist insurgency. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Related: UN Human Rights Office ‘concerned’ by floggings, arrests of gay men in Indonesia

It would make gay sex punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Indonesian Supreme Court narrowly blocked a similar measure from passing last month, but it seems that was only a temporary reprieve.

Indonesian authorities faced global criticism last month after they arrested 12 transgender women in Aceh and shaved their heads in an effort “to turn them into men”.

A group of Muslim protesters march with banners against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Banda Aceh on Decmber 27, 2017. There has been a growing backlash against Indonesia's small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over the past year, with ministers, hardliners and influential Islamic groups lining up to make anti-LGBT statements in public. / AFP PHOTO / Chaideer MAHYUDDIN (Photo credit should read CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Authorities also dressed the trans women in stereotypically male clothing, in the raid which was called “operasi penyakit masyarakat,” which translates as “community sickness operation”.

North Aceh Regency Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata said the 12 trans detainees were part of a “social disease” and had been taken to police headquarters, where they would be coached “until they really become men.”

Untung said that “the officers also nurtured them by way of having them run for some time and telling them to chant loudly until their male voices came out.”

The police chief added that the operation was carried out to stop an increase in LGBT people in Aceh, which he said would be dangerous for the next generation of Indonesians.

“There were mothers who came crying to me, worried about their children,” he told Indonesian publication Kompas.

“This is not right, and we hope this social disease can be resolved.”

More: Asia, crackdown, human rights, Indonesia, Indonesia, LGBT, UN, UN Human Rights Commissioner

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