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Jakarta Post

LGBT raids, persecution derail HIV prevention program: HRW

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, July 2, 2018   /   03:10 pm
LGBT raids, persecution derail HIV prevention program: HRW Chairman of the Indonesia Ulema Association (MUI) Ma'ruf Amin (center), accompanied by MUI deputy secretary-general Amirsyah Tambunan (second left) and representatives from Islamic mass organizations, shows off a new edict during a press conference at the office of the MUI in Jakarta. In line with the anti-LGBT edict, the MUI urged the government to outlaw lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

Growing discrimination and persecution against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia has derailed public health outreach efforts, leading to what Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called a “health crisis”, a report from HRW said Monday.

HRW said Indonesian authorities were “fueling an HIV epidemic” because of their failure to halt arbitrary and unlawful raids by police and Muslim hard-liners on private LGBT gatherings. 

“The Indonesian government’s failure to address anti-LGBT moral panic is having dire consequences for public health,” said HRW LGBT rights researcher and author of the report Kyle Knight. “The Indonesian government should recognize that its role in abuses against LGBT people is seriously compromising the country’s response to HIV.”

HRW released Monday a 70-page report titled “Scared in Public and Now No Privacy: Human Rights and Public Health Impacts of Indonesia’s Anti-LGBT Moral Panic”. The document outlines "unlawful" actions against the LGBT people and contains in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged abuse, health workers and activists.

In Indonesia, LGBT people have long been discriminated against, but public persecution, including by authorities, has risen in recent years – in 2016, a poster about LGBT psychological counseling by an organization comprising University of Indonesia students and alumni fueled a heated debate about LGBT rights. Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir responded to the issue by saying that campuses should not admit as students LGBT people.

HRW said widespread stigma and “moral panic” against the LGBT community had discouraged some HIV-vulnerable populations from accessing prevention and treatment services. 

“As a result, HIV rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) have increased five-fold since 2007 from 5 percent to 25 percent. And while the majority of new HIV infections in Indonesia occur through heterosexual transmission, one-third of new infections occur in MSM,” a statement from HRW said. (evi)