Perhaps not since Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge has an Asian society been this on edge about its future.
Granted, the Indonesian government has not declared martial law nor has it begun to ship the Muslim-majority country’s LGBTQ community into forced labor camps. But a recent string of announcements from Indonesian officials, both former and current, including a parliamentarian’s call to execute all gay people, is causing many to wonder just how far their country will go with its latest anti-gay push.
What started out as a seemingly innocuous joke – the banning of gay emojis on one of the country’s top instant messaging services, soon took a very noxious turn. Less than a week later, the Indonesian Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality as a mental condition that “may cause suffering and obstacles in functioning as a human being.” The august body declared that transgender people are suffering from a “mental disorder.”
Now the BBC is reporting on a more menacing trend with outright calls to kill gay people:
For the transgender community, many of whom are forced into the sex trade, the increase in violence directed at the LGBTQ community is palpable on the streets and the fear is real.
Gay rights activist, Hartoyo, who runs the support group Our Voice, says the community is on high alert. “I am scared that there will be violence against us. There is a history of violence against minorities in Indonesia that were fueled by similar kinds of statements. We need the government to protect us and the president needs to say you can’t talk to us like this.”
For members of the Indonesian LGBTQ community who are more affluent, and particularly those that live in the capital Jakarta, life is not nearly as dire. As long as they agree to live a closeted life, they are pretty much left alone.