Indonesian religious minister denounces LGBT, but calls for people’s empathy

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Social media went abuzz earlier this week with #UninstallGoJek after homegrown ride-hailing company Gojek has come under fire after a screenshot of a Facebook post from one of its executives expressing support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community went viral.

The condemnation of the LGBT community later grew to accusations that homosexuality, which is considered sinful for many Indonesians across all religions, was supported by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

An edited video uploaded by Twitter user @Gemacan70 showed a clip of the minister attending an event that Gemacan described as an LGBT forum.

“Does this means that the minister legalized LGBT? The government should cure LGBT through a religious and psychological approach, but they appreciate it instead. #WeirdMinister,” Gemacan tweeted.

In response to the video, Lukman made a clarification video titled “Religious Affairs Ministry Rejects LGBT”.  Lukman repeatedly said that all religions rejected LGBT communities and that it was every religious leader’s duty to guide them so they will change their ways.

“Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should still be treated with empathy so that they will change their deviant ways,” Lukman said in the video, adding that the public should avoid shunning, mocking or excluding LGBT individuals in the society.

Public anxiety over the LGBT community grew in 2016 after a gender and sexuality study group in Depok-based University of Indonesia was accused of promoting the LGBT movement.

The outrage has triggered high-ranking officials including Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir to ban LGBT-related activities in campus.

As the country enters the presidential campaign season, several regions have also been swept in the anti-LGBT movement.

Hundreds of school principals in Garut, West Java, gathered last week to publicly denounce the presence of the LGBT community in school after discovering a Facebook page for gay students.

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