Indonesia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has been subjected to prejudice, hatred and physical attacks. Adding insult to injury, public officials and religious leaders have further exacerbated the situation with their politically charged anti-LGBT rhetoric. The latest challenge is the insistence by lawmakers on criminalizing same-sex relations. The Jakarta Post’s writer Safrin La Batu reports on how the marginalized group is putting up a fight for its rights.

by Safrin La Batu

Zulfikar Fahd has traveled the world before but he felt going through the immigration process was never as heart-racing as he did at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in Canada in late January. That day, the 30-year-old had journeyed to a foreign land about 12,900 kilometers away from home with the intention of claiming asylum and would probably spend the rest of his life there. The reason: Because he is a gay — a sexual orientation so loathed in his home country of Indonesia that otherwise he faces flagellation that could put his life in danger. He remembered his voice trembling when he told the officer at the immigration counter: “I’m claiming asylum.” Zulfikar, who is open about his being homosexual, grew up as a middle class person in Jakarta. He attended law school at a top-notch university in the same city and later landed a job in a pub...