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Jakarta Post

Gerindra proposes LGBT bylaw in Depok

Gerindra proposes LGBT bylaw in Depok People celebrate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on May 17, 2015. ( Wiji Utomo)
A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil
Jakarta   ●   Thu, July 25, 2019 2019-07-25 09:48 656 0290f9de4aeb62f98549b410b53541c2 1 City Depok,bylaws,legislation,LGBT Free

All factions at the Depok Council in West Java have agreed to discuss a proposed draft bylaw to curb lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities deemed to be rampant by conservative members of the council.

The proposal was spearheaded by a member of the council from the Gerindra Party faction, Hamzah, in a plenary meeting at the council on Friday.

Hamzah said the bylaw was needed because of the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in Depok, which some members of the LGBT community were infected with, while also claiming that some Depok residents had complained about LGBT people.

“There is a lot of indecent behavior shown in public [by LGBT people] so residents have complained about that to us,” Hamzah said on Tuesday.

According to data from the Depok Health Agency, in 2014, 49 HIV positive cases were recorded in Depok. In 2015, the figure had risen to 146, and in 2016 there were 278 cases. In 2017, 372 people were found living with HIV, 62.3 percent of whom, or 232, were people in the productive age range of 25 to 49. The agency, however, did not specify the cause of the HIV infections or the sexual orientation and gender of the people infected.

Hamzah claimed he had spoken with various religious leaders in Depok who had supported the proposal of the draft bylaw. He said he had also lobbied seven other factions in the Depok Council and all had agreed to discuss the proposal.

He said that Depok already had Bylaw No. 16/2012 on public order with articles on immoral acts, but there were no specific bylaws on the LGBT community just yet, although such behavior should not be seen in public, he added.

“For example, when people of the same sex hang out in cafes and hug each other. It’s not a good sight to see, especially if Depok’s vision is to become an excellent, comfortable and religious city,” he said.

He said the proposed bylaw would also include criminal offenses, with the city’s Public Order Agency to uphold the bylaw based on reports from residents.

However, Depok Council speaker and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) member Hendrik Angke Tallo said the proposal was not yet officially on the table to be discussed at the council as it had not yet been included in the council’s legislation program (Prolegda).

He said that even though the behavior of LGBT people might disturb some residents, the people as individuals should not be restricted too much if the proposed bylaw was ever actually passed or even discussed.

“Regarding the individuals who identify themselves as LGBT, we cannot regulate them too much because they also have their basic rights,” Hendrik told the Post.

He said that although the proposal was offered at the plenary meeting last week, it still needed to go through proper procedures before it was accepted by the Council’s Bylaw Body (BPPD) to be deliberated and included in the Prolegda.

The proposal has received a backlash from Depok residents, saying it was unnecessary and that the council should focus on more pressing issues.

Head of nonprofit organization Depok Residents Health Board Roy Pangharapan said he personally disagreed with the proposed draft bylaw, adding that it was not what Depok residents really needed.

“What residents are hoping for is legislation that helps the people, not discussing something that has no urgency at all,” Roy said.

Roy said that all residents must be protected under the law and should not be discriminated against, including members of the LGBT community.

Masyarakat Cinta Depok community spokesperson Antarini Arna said the proposed draft bylaw had the potential to infringe on the principles of justice and a civilized society, on top of being discriminatory.

“I am against the LGBT draft bylaw. That’s simply a discriminatory bylaw,” Arna said.

She said it was wrong to assume that LGBT people were infected with HIV, which was the reason the Gerindra councillor wanted to introduce the bylaw, because it was only based on an assumption and failed to look at other data on HIV/AIDS.

This is not the first time the Depok administration has tried to propose legislation to curb LGBT activities.

Last year, the Depok administration issued Mayoral Instruction No. 2/2018 on family resilience against sexual deviants and Circular Letter No. 460/90-Dinsos on implementation of the instruction, which called on residents to be cautious of “any LGBT behavior” and encouraged residents to report “LGBT related activities” in the neighborhood.

The Depok administration also proposed a bylaw to make Depok a “religious city”, although the proposal was rejected by the Depok Council, saying that religion was not something to be regulated by regional governments.