Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
  • Criminalises the gender identity/expression of trans people
Provincial Ordinance on the Eradication of Immoral Behavior (No. 13/2002) in South Sumatra

This Ordinance categorises and penalises same-sex relations as “immoral behaviour”.

Aceh Regulation (No. 6/2014) Articles 63 - 64

This Provincial Ordinance on criminal offences, introduced in 2014, imposes an interpretation of Sharia law under which same-sex sexual activity is punished with a penalty of 100 lashes and/or up to eight years imprisonment. Article 63 prohibits male penetration, while Article 64 prohibits female same-sex sexual activity.1

Penal Code 1999, Article 281 Offence Against Decency

Article 281 of the Indonesian Penal Code criminalises any person who “offends against decency” with a penalty of up to two years and eight months imprisonment, or a fine. There is evidence of this law being used to criminalise transgender and gender diverse people.2

Enforcement

2017

While there is no law criminalising homosexuality at the national level, a number of provincial and local laws do exist which criminalise same-sex sexual activity. The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Indonesia states: “For example, the province of South Sumatra and the municipality of Palembang have local ordinances criminalizing same-sex sexual activity and prostitution. Under a local ordinance in Jakarta, security officers consider any transgender person in the streets at night to be a sex worker.”

On May 10, two gay men in Aceh were charged with violating Article 63 of Aceh’s Criminal Code after neighbors observed them for months, broke into their home, and then used mobile phones to film them. On May 23, the two men were each publicly caned 83 times before a crowd of onlookers. The men were not allowed to speak with lawyers after being detained by Sharia Police, according to human rights organisations. This was the first instance in which individuals have been charged and punished for homosexuality

Statements by Public Figures

2018

In October, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Religious Affairs Minister, denounced the LGBT community while also calling for empathy. He said “Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should still be treated with empathy so that they will change their deviant ways”.

Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should still be treated with empathy so that they will change their deviant ways.

Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Religious Affairs Minister

2017

Ryamizard Ryacudu, the Minister of Defence, said commenting on the LGBT movement in Indonesia: “It’s dangerous as we can’t see who our foes are; out of the blue everyone is brainwashed. Now the [LGBT] community is demanding more freedom, it really is a threat. In a proxy war, another state might occupy the minds of the nation without anyone realising it. In a nuclear war, if a bomb is dropped over Jakarta, Semarang [another town in Java] will not be affected; but in a proxy war, everything we know could disappear in an instant – it’s dangerous.”

2014

An LGBT seminar in Indonesia at a Catholic university was cancelled in September following pressure from Islamic groups. Muhammad Fuad, head of one faction of the Islamic Society Forum was quoted: “Deviant sexual behaviors are contagious… If we do not stop this ‘virus’, it is sure that one day gays and lesbians will claim equal rights and ask to see same-sex marriage recognized”.

2013

In May, Deputy Mayor of Bandah Aceh, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, reportedly labelled homosexuality a “social disease that should be eradicated”. Speaking to a local newspaper, the politician said: “Even if one case of homosexuality found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah”. She advocated a new bylaw which would further criminalise homosexuality in the province.

[Homosexuality is a] social disease that should be eradicated.

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, Bandah Aceh Deputy Mayor

2010

In October, Information Minister and member of the National AIDS Commission, Tifatul Sembiring, was heavily criticised for comments he made regarding homosexuality and AIDS. Having condemned homosexuality, the minister made a joke: “Aids – Akibat Itunya Dipakai Sembarangan,” which translates as “because they were reckless about where they put their genitals.”

Persecution and Discrimination

2018

In October, Indonesian police arrested two men who allegedly operated a Facebook account to facilitate meet-ups for gay people and other sex-related services.

In February, Indonesia persuaded Google to pull 73 applications and shut down 169 websites related to the country’s LGBT community.

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Indonesia states that discrimination against LGBT persons continued. Families often put LGBT minors into therapies, confined them indoors or pressured them to marry. According to media and NGO reports, local authorities sometimes abused transgender individuals and forced them to pay bribes following detention. Police corruption, bias and violence interfered with reporting by LGBT people. In addition, security officers in Jakarta consider any transgender person in the streets at night to be a sex worker. The pornography law criminalises the production of media depicting consensual same-sex sexual activity and classifies such activity as deviant, with fines and prison sentences imposed.

In December, Front Line Defenders released a report that included testimonies from dozens of human rights defenders who report that following a crackdown on LGBT rights in 2016 and amidst ongoing violent raids of LGBT gatherings, threats against community leaders are increasingly frequent, personal, and violent.

In July, Anwar Abbas, a leader of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, called for a boycott of Starbucks, saying that the international coffee chain’s pro-gay stance risks ruining the “religious and cultured” core of the Southeast Asian nation.

In May, Andalas University in West Sumatra asked prospective students to declare on a form that they are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender before applying and enrolling at the institution.

2011

Whilst recent developments (in the Aceh province in particular) are a cause for concern, it should be remembered that the majority of Indonesia does not criminalise consensual same-sex relations. Individuals can report instances of abuse without a fear of arrest. Despite this, there is no anti-discrimination legislation particularly concerned with LGBT individuals and instances of abuse are reported. In one personal account of life in Indonesia, a man described being attacked in the street. Having gone to the police station he described being “treated like an animal”. Whilst his attackers were arrested and charged, they were given probation and a small fine.

Legislative News

2017

During its third UPR cycle, Indonesia noted all the recommendations that it received concerned with guaranteeing LGBT persons’ rights, protecting them from discrimination and repealing the legislation of the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code, which criminalises consensual same-sex relations between adults.

2014

In October, the Aceh Province took further steps to harshen the punishment of homosexuality by passing a law which holds that anal sex between men and “tribadism” between women are punished by 100 lashes of the cane, in a public setting.

2012

In its second UPR cycle, the country rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations (in particular) in the Aceh Province, denying that legislation criminalising sexual relations between persons of the same sex existed in that region.

Footnotes
1. Aceh Regulation (No. 6/2014) Articles 63 - 64

“63. Liwath

(1) Any person who deliberately performs Liwath Jarimah is threatened with ‘Uqubat Ta’zir at most 100 (one hundred) lashes or a fine of at least 1,000 (one thousand) grams of pure gold or a maximum of 100 (one hundred) months in jail.

(2) Any person who repeats the act as referred to in paragraph (1) is threatened with ‘Uqubat Ta’zir 100 (a hundred) lashes which may be increased by a fine of at most 120 (one hundred and twenty) grams of pure gold and/or imprisonment of at most 12 months.

64. Musahaqah

(1) Every person who deliberately commits Jarimah Musahaqah is threatened with ‘Uqubat Ta’zir at most 100 (a hundred) lashes or a fine of at least 1,000 (one thousand) grams of pure gold or a maximum of 100 (one hundred) months in jail.

(2) Any person who repeats the act as referred to in paragraph (1) is threatened with ‘Uqubat Ta’zir 100 (a hundred) lashes which may be increased by a fine of at most 120 (one hundred and twenty) grams of pure gold and/or imprisonment of at most 12 months.” Full text.

2. Penal Code 1999, Article 281 Offence Against Decency

“By a maximum imprisonment of two years and eight months or a maximum fine of three thousand rupiahs shall be punished:

1st, any person who with deliberate intent publicly offends against decency;

2nd-ly, the people who with deliberate intent offend against decency whereby another person is present in spite of himself.” Full text.

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