A proposed bill to be considered by Indonesian Parliament would compel people with “deviant” sexual persuasions to undergo “rehabilitation”.
- LGBT Indonesians have faced rising hostility in recent years despite homosexuality not being illegal
- Other parts of the legislation call for women to remain in the home and “fulfil the rights of the husband”
- Activists have criticised the proposed law and questioned Indonesia’s commitment to human rights
The so-called Family Resilience Bill, which covers many aspects of family life in Indonesia, outlines measures that can be taken to assist families “in crisis” — including those undergoing financial difficulties, job demands, divorce, chronic disease or death.
“Sexual deviation”, meanwhile — defined by the draft law as those who engage in sadism, masochism, homosexual sex, or incest — is named as a sixth form of family crisis requiring intervention.
Indonesian drag queen in Australia
Escaping persecution as a gay man in Indonesia several years ago, reigning Kimberley Queen has instead found a supportive community in the northern Western Australia town of Broome.
In cases of family crisis caused by sexual deviation, it recommends that people undergo “social or psychological rehabilitation”, “spiritual guidance”, or “medical rehabilitation”.
Domestic violence is not identified as a potential crisis, and critics note that the word “violence” is avoided altogether.
The articles concerning sexual orientation have been widely mocked online.
@sihirperempuan tweet: “Homophobic, anti-feminist, unabashedly patriarchal.” my blurb for Indonesia’s Family Resilience Bill (RUU Ketahanan Keluarga) pushed by the conservatives.
“Who has the authority to deem what is deviant or not?” said Mustaghfiroh Rahayu, an activist with the women’s wing of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.
“This will be very problematic. The target, in the end, is, of course, sexual minority groups,” she said.
Extended maternity leave, but ‘double burden’ on women
While it is unclear if and when the bill will be passed, it has the support of members from the Gerindra, Golkar and PAN parties — all members of Indonesia’s ruling coalition — as well as the Islam-based PKS party.
Ledia Hanifa Amaliah, a PKS member and prominent backer of the bill, said in a statement that it would “realise the emotional and spiritual development of the Indonesian people”.
Puan Maharani, Indonesia’s parliamentary speaker, has criticised the bill, stating that it is “too interventionist” and “too intrusive” into people’s private lives.
“We need to see the law from a variety of perspectives,” Rahayu Saraswati, a former MP and Gerindra party member, told the ABC.
“What is positive, is that there’s a will to do something different. That can perhaps provide a solution.”
Ms Saraswati said, though, that there could be “victims” of the new law if people are “forced” into rehabilitation, and that parliamentarians needed to consider it “with a clear head”.
Under the proposed law, female civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises would be granted six months’ paid maternity or paternity leave, without disadvantage to their position.
But it also stipulates that it is “required” for a wife to “regulate household affairs as well as possible” and “fulfil the rights of the husband and children according to religious norms”.
Women’s rights activist Ms Rahayu said that it risked imposing a “double burden” on women.
“Obligations of the husband and wife are something that can be discussed among the family themselves,” she told the ABC.
Gerindra’s Ms Saraswati said that ultimately it needed to be reviewed, but declined to say that there were fundamental problems with the law.
Indonesia’s human rights protection in question
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo used a speech to Australian Parliament earlier this month to call on the two countries to further the values of human rights, tolerance and diversity.
“Identity politics is a trap to democracy, a threat to adversity and a threat to tolerance,” he said.
But while Mr Widodo was first elected in 2014 with the support of human rights groups, many have become disillusioned with his administration and have questioned his commitment to protecting minorities.
Mr Widodo’s choice of conservative Islamic scholar Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidential running mate — who has called for the criminalisation of homosexuality — was widely seen by liberal Indonesians as a cynical ploy to nullify religious-based attacks on the President.
In recent years, LGBT Indonesians have faced a spike in police raids against their workplaces, homes and public entertainment venues.
While homosexuality is not illegal, people are often publicly shamed by authorities and others have been charged under the country’s controversial anti-pornography law.
Anti-LGBT push sees HIV increase
The marginalisation of Indonesia’s LGBT community is fuelling an HIV “epidemic”, with HIV rates among gay men increasing five-fold since 2007, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
Last year, a senior figure in Mr Widodo’s cabinet defended the Attorney-General’s Office’s decision to post job advertisements which specified LGBT candidates were ineligible.
According to the Human Rights Watch’s World Report released last month, HIV rates among men who have sex with men has increased five-fold since 2007 from 5 per cent to 25 per cent, spurred by rising anti-LGBT sentiment and officially-endorsed discrimination.
“Indonesia had been the good-news story in South-East Asia, but in the past year the human rights situation took a turn for the worse,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Problematic new laws nearly passed, abusive old ones continue to be enforced, and minorities didn’t get the legal protection they need.”