Saiful case intensifies LGBT debate
Safrin La Batu
The Jakarta Post
Dangdut singer Saiful Jamil, who has been named a suspect in a sexual assault case involving an underage male fan, has further turned up the heat in the ongoing controversy surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The case emerged in the wake of heated debate about LGBT communities following several statements from public officials and religious leaders condemning LGBT activities and individuals.
The Kelapa Gading Police in North Jakarta named Ipul, as the singer is better-known, a suspect early on Friday after he reportedly admitted to molesting a 17-year-old boy on Thursday. He is currently in police custody while undergoing questioning.
'He will stay in custody for 20 days, which can be extended for another 40 days,' Kelapa Gading Police chief Comr. Ari Cahya Nugraha told reporters on Friday.
'We are holding him in custody so he will not repeat his actions.'
Ari explained that Ipul met the boy last month at a singing contest run by a private TV station, where he was a panelist and the alleged victim was an audience member. The two became closer after learning they both lived in North Jakarta.
On Wednesday night, after shooting an episode of the program, Ipul asked the victim to stay overnight at his house in Kelapa Gading.
'Ipul asked the victim to massage him,' said Ari as quoted by kompas.com.
'The suspect asked twice, but the victim refused. When the victim was sleeping at about 4 a.m. [on Thursday], the suspect carried out an immoral act on him.'
The police said Ipul would be charged with violating Article 82 of the Child Protection Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars and Rp 5 billion (US$370,337) in fines.
The TV station for which Ipul was a panelist immediately removed him from the singing contest, saying the program would continue as usual without his presence.
Previously, TV personality Indra Bekti was reported by a 23-year-old man on charges of sexual assault that allegedly took place in 2010.
Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) chairman Asrorun Niam Sholeh, who is also a member of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), said the case should serve as a 'moral message' to Ipul's fans and wider society that 'deviant sexual activities are not allowed, morally or legally'.
'We want him [Ipul] to speak up in front of the public [and say] that deviant sexual activities, including homosexuality, are not allowed,' Asrorun said during a visit to the Kelapa Gading Police.
On Wednesday, the MUI issued an edict stating that LGBT activities were haram. The organization called for legislation to deem LGBT activities as crimes, and to prosecute people engaging in same-sex intercourse, or encouraging, promoting or financing activities connected with the LGBT
On Monday, Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked the UN Development Program (UNDP) not to finance LGBT programs in Indonesia, after noting that the UN body had prepared $8 million to support LGBT campaigns in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.
Last Friday, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) banned TV stations from broadcasting content related to LGBT people, saying the move was to protect children from LGBT influences.
Such moves have affected the lives of entertainers, such as Kabul Basuki alias Tessy, a male comedian known for imitating females in his acts, who said his career had deteriorated amid the growing stigma, making him turn to drugs.
Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir made a public statement last month banning LGBT groups from university campuses after the circulation of a brochure from a study group offering counselling services to LGBT people.
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