The Jakarta Post
The Yogyakarta Police stopped Solidaritas Perjuangan Demokrasi ( SPD ), an activist group that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) community, from staging a rally calling for greater state protection at the Tugu Monument in Yogyakarta on Tuesday as the group had not been issued with a permit. Several police personnel and pro LGBT activists were involved in physical confrontations during the incident.
'We did not allow them to stage a rally in the area around the Tugu monument as they submitted their rally permit request letter at the last minute,' Yogyakarta Police chief Sr.Comr.Pri Hartono told journalists on Tuesday.
The incident began as approximately 60 SPD supporters gathered at an empty block of land 1-kilometer away from the Tugu Monument and proceeded to march toward Yogyakarta's iconic landmark. The group were involved in a physical confrontation with several police officers.
Pri said he prohibited the LGBT activists from moving toward the Tugu Monument in an effort to prevent them from getting involved in a clash with followers of the Islamic People's Front ( FUI ), who had previously requested a police permit to hold a rally against the LGBT community at the Titik Nol ( Kilometer Zero ) area, located 3-kilometers south of the Tugu Monument.
After discovering that SPD followers were on there way to the monument, the FUI supporters quickly moved to the area. FUI commander M.Fuad said that his group would not hesitate tougher action if SPD supporters continued toward the Tugu Monument.
'I asked the activists to change their rally schedule to tomorrow [Wednesday] or to another day. I promised that we would protect their rally,' said Pri, adding that the Yogyakarta Police dispatched 300 personnel on that day.
During a negotiation, SPD activist Anastasia Suki Ratnasari expressed her group's disappointment for being prevented from entering the Tugu Monument area.
'We submitted our permit request to the police at 11 a.m.,' she said.
The SPD spokesperson, who identified herself as Ani, said the rally was aimed at confronting another rally organized by several Islamic organizations at the Titik Nol area. She said SPD activists rejected discrimination and violent actions against LGBT people.
'Please stop hate speech against marginalized and minority groups and cease all banners containing hateful messages directed against LGBT people in Yogyakarta,' said Ani.
She further said the SPD had urged the state to fulfill the right of all Indonesian people to feel safe and to grant them the freedom to gather, to express their opinion and to decide their own sexual orientation and identity.
Ani said her group would fight against any practice, which would taint democracy such as intolerance, racism, crackdowns on places of worship, and the spread of hatred against minority groups.
'Such practices have in fact continued to occur but this is Yogyakarta's real face, which is often buried under a slogan 'Yogyakarta, the City of Tolerance',' she said. ( ebf )