The Jakarta Post
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said homosexuality was an illness and therefore Islamic leaders should not provoke Muslims to expel lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from society.
"The essence of Islam is humanity. Therefore, it is our obligation, especially as religious leaders, to prevent them from being expelled," Lukman said on Thursday.
Same-sex orientation is an illness which is why [LGBT] people need to receive treatment and counseling, either religious or psychological, because with treatment and counseling, homosexual people can, hopefully, alter their orientation, Lukman added.
"We need to embrace them so they will be conscious that they live in a religious society which can't accept homosexuality," Lukman said.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has demanded that Islamic organizations and all religious affairs offices in provinces, regencies and cities, conduct intensive religious counseling for LGBT people.
Former religious affairs minister and prominent Muslim scholar M. Quraish Shihab made a similar statement.
"We have to take responsibility and show concern to people with same-sex orientation. Don't hate them. They are sick and need to be treated," Quraish said.
He underlined the opposition of Islamic teachings to the act of homosexuality. He cited a story in the Koran about God's punishment against the people of Sodom during the era of Prophet Lut in which the city was completely destroyed as a consequence of rampant homosexuality.
"Even animals don't want to have same-sex relationships. The homosexual act is against human nature," Quraish said.
He argued that same-sex orientation is unjustifiable under the principles of human rights. "Will you let people engage in the act that will destroy humanity?" he said. (bbn)
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