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Jakarta Post

Puspen TNI under fire for homophobic comic strip

  • Dyaning Pangestika
    Dyaning Pangestika

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 4, 2019   /   06:33 pm
Puspen TNI under fire for homophobic comic strip Marchers walk down 5th Avenue as they partake in Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 in New York, the United States, on June 30. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

The Indonesian Military Information Center (Puspen TNI) has come under fire for publishing a comic strip that discriminates against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community on its Twitter account @Puspen_TNI.

The comic strip in question, titled "LGBT", sets out to explain the term LGBT and paints the community as a threat to society.

In the comic strip, one of the characters, Abeng, tells his friend, Meilan, that he looks like a member of the LGBT community, only he uses the acronym thinking it stands for Lelaki Gagah Berwajah Tampan (Macho Man with a Gorgeous Face). In the next panel, Binsa, the main character and the information center’s mascot, explains to him what the acronym actually means.

Meilan then asks Binsa if the community is dangerous, to which Binsa responds by saying there are health risks associated with the LGBT community, such as sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Twitter users immediately posted their replies to the tweet, saying that it was misleading and discriminated against the LGBT community.

“Straight people can also contract [and transmit] HIV as well. You should study more. Why do you care so much about the LGBT [community] anyway? [Your stance] will make you biased when protecting the nation,” said Tias Tanjung Wilis on her Twitter account @tias_wilis.

State-sponsored homophobia is not unprecedented in Indonesia. On July 25, all factions of the Depok Council in West Java agreed to discuss a proposed draft bylaw to curb LGBT-related activities. A common misconception is that LGBT people are responsible for HIV/AIDS, when in reality the virus can be transmitted by anyone infected with it.

Previously, Indonesian comic strip artist Alpantuni, who identified himself as a gay Muslim, was bullied by local Twitter users for posting comic strips that spoke out about Indonesian Muslims' behavior toward the LGBT community.

His latest comic strip, titled "Incoherence of the Ustads", criticizes the hypocrisy of local Muslims by showing how Muslims embraced former Islamic State group supporters with open arms but acted the opposite when it came to LGBT Muslims.