Activists slam anti-LGBT declaration in Padang as ‘institutionalising hatred’

Source – November 18, 2018
Ansharullah at 'Padang Free from Immorality' declaration - November 18, 2018 (Antara)
Ansharullah at 'Padang Free from Immorality' declaration - November 18, 2018 (Antara)

Fadiyah Alaidrus – The mayor of Padang, Mahyeldi Ansharullah, has led a declaration attended by thousands of people rejecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) in the West Sumatran city.

The event, which was held at the Haji Agus Salim Sports Arena on Sunday November 18, was part of the Padang Free from Immorality (Padang Bebas Maksiat) declaration.

Ansharullah declared that he was ready to fight perpetrators of maksiat (immorality, the violation of God’s laws) who do not immediately mend their ways. Ansharullah is a leading member of the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and has served two terms as Padang mayor.

“To the perpetrators of maksiat come repent and those parties which support them realise that they are facing [opposition from] all parties and society in Padang as well as the security forces”, Ansharullah was quoted as saying by the Antara state news agency.

The declaration took up three issues. First, supporting steps by the Padang municipal government to make Padang free from maksiat, adultery, LGBT, narcotics and alcohol. Second, it contains a plea to the public, organisations, government and private institutions to refrain from behaviour which smacks of maksiat. Third, an invitation to safeguard unity in order to create a situation which is conducive, safe, comfortable and orderly as well as being free from maksiat.

The text of the declaration was printed on a billboard. In addition to Ansharullah, the declaration was also signed by Padang Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) speaker Elly Thrisyanti from Prabowo Subianto’s Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

The participants of the action then listened to a sermon by the great leader of the New York Great Mosque, Muhammad Shamsi Ali. In addition to this, prominent Islamic leader Zulkifli Muhammad Ali – who has been declared a suspect by the national police criminal investigation bureau (Bareskrim Polri) on charges of spreading hatred, discrimination and SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group inspired conflict) – also presented a sermon.

Following this they held a march through the city from the Padang State Senior High School 2 to the West Sumatra governor’s office. During the march they shouted protest slogans against LGBT and carried posters with messages such as “Blessed is a Country without LGBT”, “Save Padang City from LGBT”, “LGBT Invites Natural Disasters”, “Expel Them! LGBT groups are not People of Minang” [referring to the West Sumatra ethnic group] and “LGBT You Have no Place in West Sumatra”.

“[The number of people at the action] was seven thousand people”, claimed action coordinator Lucky Abdul Hayyi when contacted by Tirto.

Earlier, Hayyi was also the action coordinator for a “Defend the Tauhid” action which was held at Limbangan regency in Padang on Thursday October 25. He led the protest over the burning of a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith by members of the youth wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama in the West Java city of Garut on October 22.

State sponsored hate crimes

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus advocate Lini Zurlia, who focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) individuals, said the declaration by the Padang mayor represents a state supported crime.

“This is hatred and is a hate crime which is organised and systemic. Not just once, but again and again, repeatedly. Spreading from one region to another and sponsored by the state”, she said to Tirto.

Indonesian Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Andreas Harsono says that gender and sexual minorities should not be something to be frightened of. In many Indonesian cultures there are indigenous words to describe gender minorities.

“For example, wandu in Javanese from the figure Kenyawandu, the caretaker of monsters in [traditional] wayang stories. The word bissu in the Bugis language, a person who is not a man, not a woman. The Bugis have five words for sexuality including bissu”, he told Tirto.

According to Harsono, minority gender people have become frightened by the anti-LGBT sentiment that is being promoted by politicians and regional heads. They are people who were born with a LGBT sexual identity who may, because of this, begin to question why there were born with such a sexual orientation.

“The Indonesian state should help them, treat them the same as other citizens. Not create fear and loathing”, said the author of the HRW report Scared in Public and Now No Privacy: Human Rights and Public Health Impacts of Indonesia’s Anti-LGBT Moral Panic.

Harsono also quoted from an old proverb: “When a politician plants a seed of hate, the seed will grow into violence and blood”.

Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy deputy chairperson Bonar Tigor Naipospos meanwhile is of the view that opposition to LGBT is often influenced by certain religious preferences. Although he asserts that the state must stop treating LGBT people as a social illness or people who are deviant.

“What’s important is that the state protects and fulfills the rights of all of its citizens without discrimination. The state must not criminalise and prosecute LGBT people”, said Naipospos when contacted by Tirto.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Deklarasi Anti LGBT di Padang Dianggap Upaya Melembagakan Kebencian.]