Jakarta (AsiaNews) – “Members of the LGBT community are not authorised to engage in cultural activities on any university campus run by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education,” said Muhammad Nasir, the minister in charge.
For him, the idea of setting up a Support Group and Resources Centre (SGRC) devoted to Sexuality Studies on the campus of the University of Indonesia (Universitas Indonesia, UI) is out of the question. "LGBT people do not correspond to Indonesian behavioural morality,” he explained, “I personally forbid them.”
Zulkifli Hasan, speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (parliament), also spoke out against the request made by some UI students on behalf of LGBT people. For Hasan, who also heads the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional, PAN), a moderate Muslim party, "the SGRC should be banned because it goes against our national culture."
When the UI logo recently appeared on the SGRC website, and in the group’s leaflets, Minister Nasir spoke with the university’s dean who told him that the use of the university symbol was not authorised and that he did not give the SGRC the right to operate on campus. “Hence, the group is illegal”.
The SGRC was set up in May 2014. Two UI students, Nadia Karima Melati and Firmansyah are among its founders.
“What we offer,” Melati said, “is education and advocacy on gender issues.” For her, “The idea was simple, namely to establish a research centre and support the neglected people from LGBT community.”
A former economics student, Firmansyah is openly gay. He wants the government to address the issue of LGBT rights. Speaking to AsiaNews, the activist said that Indonesia has ignored the issue for far too long.
After his statement, Nasir’s Twitter account was flooded with protest messages from members of the LGBT community.
For the minister, these people must be studied in a God-believing country like Indonesia. At the same time, “Their rights as citizens must be protected by the state;” yet, “this does not legitimise LGBT status.”
In Indonesia, most people do not accept LGBT people. Muslim extremists have frequently and violently disrupted symposia dedicated to gender issues.
In Aceh, the only Indonesian province that enforces Sharia, practicing homosexuals can be caned up to 100 times.
Elsewhere in the country, same sex relations are not illegal since the country’s civil code is based on legal practices introduced at the time of the Dutch East Indies.
Last December, the first same-sex "marriage" was performed, but the authorities refused to recognise its legality.