The Jakarta Post
As the latest conservative stride in the wake of the LGBT paranoia gripping the nation, the government has demanded a UN body end an awareness program to empower the minority group.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Monday that the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) had summoned the UN Development Program Indonesia to seek clarification about 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.
'[UNDP Indonesia] knows nothing about the matter. It said that UNDP Thailand had these programs first, we asked them not to replicate such projects [in Indonesia],' Kalla told reporters at his office on Monday.
Kalla reiterated that the government respected citizens' rights to diverse sexual expression, but said that exercising such a right should not include campaigns to encourage other people to join the LGBT cause, which Kalla said contradicted long-standing religious and cultural norms in the country.
Kalla said that the government had also asked UNDP Indonesia to tell its partner office in Thailand to stop the latter's LGBT programs because they were not in accordance with values in ASEAN countries.
'There is nothing wrong with [LGBT] if it is something related to the exercise of individual rights. It only goes in the wrong direction if it becomes a movement to encourage people to become a part of it. For example, by campaigning to legalize same-sex marriage in Indonesia,' Kalla added.
Kalla also discouraged LGBT people from publishing information on the internet that promoted the LGBT movement.
'When it comes to privacy, it is not a problem, but if it deals with disseminating information [about LGBT campaigns] then we disagree.'
Hostility toward an LGBT group at a university campus recently triggered larger condemnation of the minority group in the country.
The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) said it had discouraged broadcasters, television and radio stations from running programs promoting the activities of the LGBT community.
UNDP Indonesia spokesperson Tomi Soetjipto told the Jakarta Post that the institution was still negotiating the ban of the program.
'We are aware of the situation. We are now in discussions with the government of Indonesia and also with the UNDP regional center [Asia Pacific] in Bangkok,' he said.
Yuyun Wahyuningrum, senior advisor on ASEAN and human rights at the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), lamented the backlash against the UNDP program, saying that it was horribly misguided.
'[LGBT people] are like second class citizens. The [UNDP] aims to show that there are citizens whose rights should be protected but only because they're different, their rights are denied,' she said.
'I don't see any reason why the government should reject a program like this seeing how it's for the sake of the country,' she said.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said that all LGBT people possessed basic rights as citizens, which were protected under the law.
'We also have to protect them,' Luhut said.
He went on to say people could not condemn LGBT people using religious reasons because homosexuality was genetic, arguing that studies had found that such a condition was found on a person's chromosome.
He said that it was difficult for people to avoid such a genetic predisposition.
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