It has been an unusual week in politics in Indonesia as major political parties clamor to prove they’re not pro-LGBTI.
It comes after a sensational claim from Zulkifli Hasan, chair of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). He said parliament was getting ready to legalize same-sex marriage or pro-LGBTI laws.
‘Currently in the Parliament they are discussing an LGBT law or same-sex marriage. There are already five political parties that approve LGBT,’ he told Merdeka.
There has been increasing persecution of the LGBTI community since January 2016. A recent study also revealed about 90% of Indonesians who know what LGBTI means are ‘threatened’ by that community.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely the Indonesian parliament is set to pass any legislation that would improve the lives of LGBTI people.
In fact, House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo confirmed there was no draft same-sex marriage or pro-LGBTI Bills currently tabled.
But Soesatyo openly condemned the LGBTI community for ‘destroying the nation’s morale’.
‘Our spirit is in the discussion of the Criminal Code Bill in addition to rejecting LGBT, and there is an extension of the punishment of LGBT behavior,’ he told Tribun News.
‘Therefore, it is not only the abuse of minors but also the same kind of relationship that can be categorized as immoral behavior.’
Even the Vice President, Jusuf Kalla shared his thoughts about whether there homosexuality should be legalized in Indonesia.
‘I do not know what kind of process is carried out in the House, but I do not think anyone would dare to legalize it in Indonesia,’ he told Antara News.
‘Yes, it is a reality that they exist as part of the society. However, it is a private business that does not need to be campaigned out or formally legalized.’
Why are they so obsessed with LGBTI?
The political focus on the LGBTI community in the past week came after the Constitutional Court rejected a petition to amend the criminal code (KUHP) to make gay and premarital sex punishable by up to five years in prison.
But a House Commission is currently reviewing the KUHP and drafting a new version. The draft will be presented to the parliament on 5 February and may include criminal codes to outlaw same-sex relations.
Observers in Indonesia said political parties who have not called for the criminalization of the LGBTI people are now falling over themselves to prove they are not at all pro-LGBTI. Especially ahead of elections in 2019.
In a scathing editorial titled ‘the politics of gay-bashing‘, The Jakarta Post said Zulkifli’s comments were a calculated political move.
‘Without giving details as to which political factions in the deliberation to amend the Criminal Code showed leniency toward the gay community, Zulkifli effectively backed them into a corner, as no faction wishes to be seen by the electorate as being weak on gay issues,’ the editorial read.
‘The strategy paid off handsomely, with all factions now reiterating their opposition to any efforts to legitimize the gay community.
The editorial said that ‘gaybashing’ would intensify ahead of next year’s elections as political parties use the LGBTI community to create a climate of fear.
‘We appear to be witnessing the emergence of “Trumpism”, where spinning hate is becoming the new norm in Indonesian politics. What a sorry state of affairs,’ the editorial read.