Indonesian Court Rejects Petition to Criminalise Non-Heterosexual Sex

Activists believe the proposal to amend several articles of the Indonesian Criminal Code is aimed at persecuting the LGBT community.

A demonstrator holds a sign at an anti-homophobia march in Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Reuters

The Indonesian Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusional or MK) has rejected the petition of an Islamic conservative group to outlaw extramarital and gay sex.

Activists believe the proposal to amend several articles of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) is aimed at persecuting the LGBT community.

The petition was filed by Love Family Alliance (AILA) which asked the court to make a judicial review of Article 284 (extramarital sex), Article 285 (rape), and Article 292 (pedophilia).

The group wanted the law to consider homosexual sex as rape. It also wanted to include punishment against minors who engaged in prepubescent sex. Essentially, the conservative group was demanding a ban on all sex outside heterosexual marriage. Same-sex marriage is not currently recognised in Indonesia.

Voting five against four, members of the constitutional court rejected the petition because AILA was proposing the creation of new laws, a power which is outside the court’s mandate. The majority said the issues raised in the petition should be addressed to the legislative body.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority nation, has a secular state which advocates a moderate view in interpreting and implementing Islamic teachings. However, Muslim conservatism in recent years has been on the rise. A report by Front Line Defenders warned that LGBT rights advocates are increasingly facing attacks in the country.

AILA is led by Bachtiar Nasir, a radical cleric who successfully led a campaign for the removal of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahja Purnama after the latter was accused of disrespecting Islam.

Nasir is criticised by some activists for preaching hate against minority groups in Indonesia, including the LGBT community. Last year, he was linked to a money laundering case involving the militant group ISIS, but this was not conclusively proven by the police.

Some Twitter users acknowledged the decision of the court as a win for LGBT rights:

But some saw the court’s decision as a sin that would only lead to tragic consequences:

[Following the MK’s decision to legalize LGBT, living together out of marriage, and extramarital sex (zina), Indonesia should brace for disaster thanks to our atrocious leaders. Have fun being rebuked by the Almighty.]

On December 15, West and Central Java were jolted by a strong undersea quake. Some conservatives blamed the court’s decision favoring the LGBT for causing the disaster. Some Twitter users were quick to refute hate speech:

[apparently bigots went like “OMG LGBT caused earthquake”, “DWP [one of Indonesia’s biggest dance music festivals] caused earthquake”. No guys, didn’t your teachers told you that earthquake is a seismic activity that happens due to shifting earth plates? I guess they don’t teach that kind of stuff in bigot school.]

[To the a-holes who link natural disasters to human actions such as MK’s decision on LGBT or DWP, here’s the list of earthquakes above 6 on Richter Scales that happened in Indonesia in the past year. Please, ration your stupid statements.]

AILA has vowed to continue its mission of upholding what it calls family values in Indonesia. This is a challenge for the LGBT community and other concerned citizens to remain vigilant and to counter the rising tide of conservatism in the Indonesian bureaucracy.

The original article was originally published on Global Voices. Read the original here

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