Recent developments in Indonesia are signalling a worrying trend concerning LGBTQ+ rights in the country. Photo: Tony Webster, Flickr.

LGBTQ+ Rights Are Under Threat in Indonesia

Individuals identifying with or belonging to the LGBTQ+ community are under attack in Indonesia. Since 2015, the violence towards the LGBTQ+ community has been on the rise. The violence has in many cases been sanctioned by the Indonesian state, who are further fueling hostile attitudes towards the community.

Since the end of 2015, there have been numerous reports on acts of violence towards the LGBTQ+ community across Indonesia. The abuses have included humiliation, intimidation and arbitrary arrest. A large part of the violence has been conducted by the Indonesian police. This year, there have been several attacks on individuals identifying with or belonging to the waria community. Waria is a third legal gender in Indonesia, typically encompassing individuals “who were assigned a male sex at birth but whose gender identity or expression does not match this assigned sex”, as defined by Asia Pacific Transgender Network.

Looking at the historical context of Indonesia, there has been a general acceptance of the waria community. However, ever since the Aceh province started enforcing Islamic criminal code in October 2015, the documented violence against waria and those identifying with or belonging to the LGBTQ+ community has been on the rise. The violence in the province has continued and in the beginning of 2018 the police raided several businesses that had employed individuals identifying as waria. In early November this year, the police in the province Lampung also arrested three individuals from the waria community. The arrestees were brought to a facility where they were given “Islamic guidance”, after which they were hosed down by a firetruck on the street outside.

So far, the Indonesian government has failed to respond to these acts of violence. Rather, discriminatory sentiments have been further fueled by anti-LGBTQ+ statements from top government officials. In these statements LGBTQ+ rights activists have, among other things, been accused of spreading propaganda labelled as a threat to Indonesian culture, faith and identity. Against this backdrop, the current state of affairs are indeed painting a bleak picture of the future of LGBTQ+ rights in Indonesia.

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