NU joins anti-LGBT bandwagon with edict
Fedina S. Sundaryani
The Jakarta Post
The country's largest Islamic outfit, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has become the latest organization to campaign for the prosecution of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
In an official statement signed by NU chairman Said Aqil Siroj and issued on Thursday, the organization declared it would not recognize the existence of LGBT groups and their activities, claiming that LGBT people's sexual orientation was incompatible with human nature.
Because of the perceived deviation from the laws of nature, NU called on the House of Representatives and the government to start deliberating a law in order to categorize homosexuality as a crime, which could carry sanctions for anyone campaigning for LGBT rights.
The Muslim organization also called for the rehabilitation of members of the LGBT community.
'[The law should also stipulate] rehabilitation for every person who has LGBT characteristics so they can return to normal,' the statement read.
Senior NU cleric Asrorun Niam Sholeh said his organization made the announcement after months of concern over increasing support for the LGBT movement.
NU, which is known for its moderate interpretation of Islam, had concluded that existing laws were not enough to keep LGBT campaigners in check, Asrorun said.
'Based on NU's evaluation, LGBT activities should be prohibited and categorized as crimes, so there must be a legal mechanism [to address them]. The law currently only defines what a legal marriage is, which implies that homosexual activities are not legal,' he told The Jakarta Post.
As for rehabilitation of LGBT individuals, Asrorun said the government should offer various methods given the range of possible causes of homosexuality and other 'deviant sexual orientations'.
NU is the latest organization to declare war on the LGBT community.
Earlier, the National Awakening Party (PKB) made a similar call to criminalize those campaigning for LGBT rights.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) also previously expressed its rejection of LGBT people, citing a fatwa it issued in 2014 stipulating that the promotion of LGBT activities was against Islam.
At the time, MUI chairman Ma'ruf Amin also called for legislation on LGBT activities.
Recently, a leading Indonesian psychiatric association classified homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism as mental disorders, saying they could be cured through proper treatment.
The Indonesian Psychiatrists Association (PDSKJI) said that most of the time, homosexuality was triggered by external factors, such as a person's social environment, and therefore could be healed through psychiatric treatment.
Referring to the Mental Health Law and the association's mental health and mental disorder diagnostic guidelines, the PDSKJI categorized homosexuals and bisexuals as 'people with psychiatric problems', while it said transgender people had 'mental disorders'.
Amid the ongoing controversy, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Tifatul Sembiring caused an uproar on Friday by publishing a tweet from his Twitter account @tifsembiring suggesting that homosexuals should be put to death.
Quoting a verse from the hadith, a compilation of the sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, Tifatul said: '#FridayThoughts: The Prophet said kill the person and their partner who commit the acts of the people of Luth [homosexuals] and kill the person and the animal who have sexual intercourse.' The first part was a quote of an Arabic sentence.
Many Twitter users reacted quickly and angrily to the tweet, including movie director Joko Anwar and actress Hannah Al Rashid.
Other Twitter users posted a statement taken from a circular issued by National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti last October, ordering police officers to be aware of and to prevent hate speech in relation to several issues, including sexual orientation and gender.
The circular also cited several laws that could be used against those who disseminated hate, such as the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, the Abolishment of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Law and the Social Conflict Law.
Despite the wave of criticism, Tifatul, who once served as information and communications minister under the administration of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, stood by his remarks, saying he was not spreading hatred but simply quoting a verse from the hadith.
'Quoting the Prophet's hadith is hate speech? What are you talking about, Mas?' he said, in reply to a tweet from Joko Anwar.
Tifatul subsequently deleted the controversial tweet.
How the persecution evolved
Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir says LGBT people should be banned from entering universities. The minister is reacting to the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC) at the University of Indonesia (UI), which offers counseling for LGBT students.
Nasir says LGBT communities are allowed to host campus activities if they have been granted permission from their university. Furthermore, he specifies that such groups will be allowed on campus as long they do not promote indecent acts, such as intimacy and sexual intercourse.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator Nasir Djamil says the LGBT community should not be allowed to grow or be given room to conduct its activities.
TV personality Indra Bekti is reported by a 23-year-old man on charges of sexual assault that allegedly took place in 2010.
Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi says it is inappropriate for civil servants to be homosexual. Having more than one wife for a man is still normal, even though it is prohibited by regulations and the ethics code.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan defends the LGBT community, saying that whoever its members are, wherever they work, they continue to be Indonesian citizens. They have a right to be protected as well.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla says the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) has summoned the UN Development Program Indonesia to seek clarification on US$8 million in funding allocated for LGBT programs in several countries in Asia, including Indonesia, and demanded termination of any LGBT programs in the country.
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin sees the LGBT community as a social problem that threatens religious life and the strength of family and national identity.
The Kelapa Gading Police in North Jakarta name dangdut singer Syaiful Jamil, known also as Ipul, a suspect after he reportedly admitted to molesting a 17-year-old boy. He is currently in police custody.
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