The Jakarta Post
LGBT rights organization Arus Pelangi questioned on Sunday the government's plan to ban websites containing education and information about the minority group.
Calling the community a threat to the country's security, identity and culture, the House of Representatives has recommended a ban on websites containing LGBT-related issues be included in the upcoming national cyber security bill.
Arus Pelangi said that there was no ongoing propaganda from LGBT people that the government and the public should be concerned about.
The websites that are often deemed to be campaigning for the minority group actually contain educational and empowerment materials for LGBT people who are often repressed by this society, according to an official of the organization.
'Some LGBT people share their story in a blog and several websites become a place for them to discuss various issues. Those are informative for the public and are certainly not propaganda,' said Arus Pelangi chairperson Yuli Rustinawati.
She added that the websites emphasize that LGBT people have equal rights as citizens and they inform the public about the existence of the sexual orientations, but never try to campaign or persuade people to become homosexuals or transgenders.
Arus Pelangi provides legal aid to victims of violence and discrimination sparked by intolerance of different sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions.
The group also calls for the public to strengthen camaraderie with their fellow citizens and protect minority groups of any kind, including those of religions and races.
'Using the majority's opinion to beat us, the minority, is not right and we never ask people to agree with us. Differences should not lead to hatred, provocation and violence,' Yuli said.
The spiralling intolerance of LGBT people and issues was started with a controversy surrounding SGRC-UI, a study group established by University of Indonesia students that focuses on counseling and discussions on gender and sexuality.
Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir initially called on LGBT-related activities to not be allowed on campuses.
Although he retracted his statement later, saying that he only did not want to permit the public display of affection between homosexual persons, other high-ranking government officials continued to spread hostility toward the minority group.
The government later reprimanded the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and demanded the UN body stop funding LGBT-related programs, while the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued an edict banning the community in the country.
Recently, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) issued circulars to broadcasters saying they must not air any programs containing LGBT content to protect children and teenagers from the indecent behavior.
Yuli said such a negative light on LGBT people would worsen prejudice toward the minority group.
The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973, but Rustinawati said that many LGBT people were brought to psychologists and declared to be ill.
'It is actually much better if we can learn together about the varieties of sexual orientations and gender identities,' she added.
The ministry has invited Arus Pelangi to discuss matters related to the bill and said that four websites are suspected of promoting LGBT issues.
While reminding people to keep their sexuality orientations private, several government officials said they still respect and are committed to protecting the rights of LGBT as citizens.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the government respected citizens' rights to diverse sexual expressions.
'Whoever they are, wherever they work, he or she continues to be an Indonesian citizen. They have the right to be protected as well,' said Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.
Din Syamsuddin from Muhammadiyah also said that people should not express hatred toward the LGBT group. (wnd)
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