While homosexuality is not illegal in all of Indonesia, it is in the province of Aceh.
The LGBT community in Aceh is currently being treated horribly, and many have been forced into hiding. Hartoyo, an LGBT activist in the region, recounted his story of how his home was broken into by a group of people, after which he was arrested and tortured for three hours by police.
Homosexuality criminalization varies state to state in Indonesia, where many states have laws banning sex work, which is defined so widely that it includes same-sex intercourse and intimacy.
This isn’t surprising, however, when a Pew Research study from 2013 found that 93% of those asked in the country said they didn’t believe homosexuality should be accepted. This ranked Indonesia as the least tolerant of countries surveyed. This is further compounded by the violence the LGBT community faces, such as the not-uncommon story above, or the fact that 85% of the country’s transgender population has experienced violence.
Despite all of this, there are one hundred twenty LGBT grassroots organizations working to bring awareness to health issues as well as to organize social activities. The difficulty comes in trying to fight for rights, which so far hasn’t been successful.
The most immediate issue, according to Hartoyo, is violence against the LGBT community. Violence against the community in Indonesia is a growing problem, and due to the inconsistent laws across the country, there are varying degrees of violence and police response depending on region.
While acceptance of LGBT people is something that changes over time, right now, the torture of the community by police, and the horrendous things said by politicians about the LGBT community, mean that it is time for the global community to step in. The safety of marginalized communities is critical, and for the world to watch with continued inaction would be to do a great disservice to the LGBT community in Aceh and other parts of Indonesia. Hopefully, awareness of these conditions will bring global leaders to come together to stand against bigotry and violence.
Sources: Huffington Post
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.