Independence Day commemoration celebrates sexual and cultural diversity

Our Voice – August 17, 2012
Rally against intolerance in Yogyakarta (Tempo)
Rally against intolerance in Yogyakarta (Tempo)

Yatna Pelangi – Marking Indonesia’s 67th anniversary of independence, members of the transsexual, gay and lesbian community held an Independence Day commemoration in Ndalem Notoprajan in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.

Starting with a reflection on the struggle for liberation and a sense of nationalism, the Yogyakarta Network for Human Rights and Diversity (Jamgaman) held a flag rising ceremony.

Scores of Jamgaman activists, including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, along with church leaders could be seen underneath the sun’s intense heat singing and honoring the raising of the flag.

Through the Facebook page Upe Ha, one of the activists who took part in the commemoration said, “This activity reflects the symbolic love of a community that has been sidelined by the system because of a different life choice. Although to this day discrimination continues unabated, we still show a deep respect for the [independence] struggle.

The Upe Ha Facebook page added that the activity was a mutual reflection that the people that reside in Indonesia are diverse and from a variety of backgrounds, whether that diversity is sexual orientation, cultural diversity, religious diversity and other backgrounds. And the state and policy makers must return to understanding the real meaning of the word independence, not making new policies that instead “imprison” its citizens.

[LGBT Yogya rayakan kemerdekan RI dengan upacara bersama – 17 Augustus, 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]