A rights activist is demanding President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government declare its intention to abolish any laws that target minorities and to prosecute those who commit violence against them.
'A loud statement of support for the rights of Indonesia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population would be an important place to start,' Human Rights Watch's (HRW) deputy director for Asia division, Phelim Kine, said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
He made the statement in response to the Indonesian Ulema Council's (MUI) statement, which stigmatized the LGBT population by declaring them 'deviant' and an affront to the 'dignity of Indonesia.'
In its recently issued fatwa, or religious edict, the council called for same-sex acts to be punished by caning, and in some instances, the death penalty. The fatwa considers homosexuality a curable disease and says homosexual acts "must be heavily punished.'
Kine said the MUI's intolerance and encouragement of prosecution of a minority group should come as no surprise.
'The MUI issued a similarly dangerous fatwa in 2005 against the country's Ahmadiyah community. That fatwa held that the Ahmadiyah, an Islamic revivalist movement, deviated from Quranic teachings. The government responded to that fatwa in 2008 by passing a nationwide anti-Ahmadiyah decree that bans the Ahmadiyah from proselytizing their faith,' he said.
Since then, he added, Islamist militants had repeatedly attacked the Ahmadiyah community, often with the passive or active involvement of government officials and security forces.
Kine said the MUI's anti-LGBT fatwa mirrored the bigotry of two bylaws passed by the Aceh provincial government in September 2014 that created new discriminatory offenses that did not exist in the criminal code (KUHP).
The bylaws extend sharia, or Islamic law, to non-Muslims, criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). The criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sex acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes.
'Those bylaws and other laws drawn from discriminatory fatwas violate fundamental human rights guaranteed under core international human rights treaties to which Indonesia is party,' Kine said.(ebf)(++++)
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