UN human rights commissioner warns Indonesia over crackdown on LGBTQ community
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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”.
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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.”