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Jakarta Post

LGBT advocates give moving speeches at award event

  • Hans Nicholas Jong & Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, August 27, 2016   /  10:00 am
LGBT advocates give moving speeches at award event Abhipraya Ardiansyah Muchtar, a representative of Forum LGBTIQ, poses for a picture after delivering a speech during the Suardi Tasrif Award, for freedom of expression, ceremony on Friday evening. Forum LGBTIQ won the award, organized by Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI). (JP/Liza Yosephine)

A group of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning) advocates was bestowed with the Suardi Tasrif Award, given to those fighting for freedom of expression, during a ceremony in Jakarta on Friday.

The group, Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia, is an alliance of more than 20 LGBTIQ NGOs throughout Indonesia.

The award was ceremonially accepted by two representatives from the alliance, Abhipraya Ardiansyah Muchtar, who is a transman, and Kanza Vina, a transwoman. The ceremony was also attended by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who delivered a keynote speech.

“This award is good news during times when the LGBTIQ community is bombarded with information, propaganda and suspicion in social media and mainstream media, which is filled with ignorance about the sexuality of individuals like me,” Abhipraya, who realized that he was born in the wrong body when he was still little.

The award, organized by the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI), came as several Islamist professors are petitioning the Constitutional Court to criminalize consensual sex among unmarried heterosexual and homosexual people, something which could severely limit people’s privacy and further fuel discrimination against LGBTIQ people.

“During the 71 years of Indonesian independence, LGBTIQ people have never been protected nor helped in Indonesia. But we were not criminalized either,” said Abhipraya.

He then pleaded with the government to help the LGBTIQ community through this hard time.

“Now there is an attempt to criminalize LGBTIQ people through the Constitutional Court. I hope the government, including Pak Minister, will see our difficult situation and support public education so that the public can understand and want to stop discrimination against us,” Abhipraya said.

“Sexuality is something deep. It requires more than a binary approach: man and woman. It also requires more than a ‘disorder’ label. We ourselves do not want to be in the position where we have to ask a lot of questions,” he said in his speech.

Abhipraya also conveyed his thanks to the AJI, which celebrated its 22nd anniversary on Aug. 19.

“We are happy to receive this award, from this organization of journalists. It gives up hope—and at the same time is a challenge for journalists—of an improvement in the quality of journalism and news on sexual minorities in Indonesia,” he said in his speech.

“This Suardi Tasrif Award is not simply an appreciation of our work in Forum LGBTIQ, but also of our goals, the future of Indonesia, which will be better, in which we all work together to nurture freedom and diversity,” Abhipraya said.

Kanza Vina, a representative of Forum LGBTIQ, poses for a picture after delivering a speech during the Suardi Tasrif Award, for freedom of expression, ceremony on Friday evening. Forum LGBTIQ won the award, organized by the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI). (JP/Liza Yosephine)

Kanza opened her speech with a story about her hardship growing up as a “feminine” boy in Bengkulu. She said her seniors in junior high school forced her to give her oral sex and later she became a sex worker when she moved out from home at 15 years old.

“The LGBTIQ movement is the youngest democracy movement in Indonesia. We learn a lot from other movements, from religious freedom to women’s rights,” Kanza said.

“Our road is long and bumpy but we believe we shall overcome some day,” she said. (evi)

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