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Jakarta Post

'Waria' told to leave their home in Jakarta amid anti-LGBT campaign

  • Fachrul Sidiq

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, November 18, 2018   /   02:30 pm
'Waria' told to leave their home in Jakarta amid anti-LGBT campaign Miss Waria finalists gather on stage for the announcement of the winners in Jakarta in December. The organizing committee had to keep the event a secret to avoid intimidation from hard-line groups. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Seven transgender people in Sumur Utara, Klender, East Jakarta, have been told by residents to leave a boarding house they are currently staying at. 

"We, kampung Sumur residents, reject the presence of LGBT groups", states a banner put up in front of the boarding house on Saturday. The neighborhood unit (RT) head was collecting signatures from residents to expel the waria, said one of the seven people affected who requested anonymity, using a local term for transgender people.

She said they had been accused of prostitution.

The boarding house is home to eight people; the eighth room being occupied by a midwife, she said, adding that many more transgender people resided in the area. 

“We have never broken any rules. We always abide by the regulations set in the neighborhood, including not receiving any guests,” she told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. “Our landlady defends us, but now she is being called an atheist and disgusting and [blamed for] stirring up social tension.”

She has stayed in the boarding house for several years; some of her friends have lived there for 10 years or longer and have never been threatened until now. “We have not been physically abused so far, but we do not know what will happen,” she said.

Yulianus Rettoblaut, a well-known rights activist that leads the Indonesian Waria Communication Forum (FKWI), lamented the situation. She attributed the threats to rising anti-LGBT sentiment in the country particularly ahead of the presidential and legislative elections next year, as anti-LGBT statements have been employed by politicians to get votes.

“Our [state ideology of] Pancasila guarantees equal justice for all, but we all know transgender people always face discrimination,” she said. Yuli suggested that the seven waria seek assistance from rights groups, such as the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) or Human Rights Watch (HRW) to make sure they got justice. 

HRW researcher Andreas Harsono said the local residents could not trespass onto their private lives, as long as the landlady did not mind their presence. (evi)